Project UNSHACKLE Organizing Toolkit HIV and Imprisonment HIV and Incarceration HIV and Mass Imprisonment Uniting

a Network on Sentencing and HIV/AIDS with Community Knowledge Leading our Efforts

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Project UNSHACKLE
Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit
By Laura McTighe
Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

December 2009

80-a Fourth Street Brooklyn, NY 11217 Tel: (212) 937-7955 Web: www.champnetwork.org Email: champ@champnetwork.org Copyright © 2009 by Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) All rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction is encouraged provided appropriate credit is given.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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for John Bell and Jeanette Moody, who taught me what it means to fight for the world I want to live in

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Table of Contents
Acknowledgments ............................................................................................................................... 6 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 7
⇒ About This Toolkit .......................................................................................................... 8 ⇒ Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment .................................................................... 9 ⇒ The Scope of Project UNSHACKLE............................................................................. 12

Political Education ............................................................................................................................ 15
⇒ Introduction ................................................................................................................... 16 ⇒ Where Did Prisons Come From? ................................................................................. 18 ⇒ How Did We End Up with So Many People in Prison? .............................................. 22 ⇒ What Has This Done to Our Communities? ............................................................... 25 ⇒ How Does All of this Relate to HIV? ............................................................................ 26 ⇒ How Do We Think About Prisons through an HIV Prevention Justice Lens?.................................................................. 37

Strategic Communications ............................................................................................................ 31
⇒ Introduction ................................................................................................................... 32 ⇒ An Overview of Strategic Communications ............................................................... 33 ⇒ Communicating about HIV and Imprisonment ........................................................... 36 ⇒ Messaging the Project UNSHACKLE Vision .............................................................. 40 ⇒ A Sample Strategic Communications Plan ................................................................ 41 ⇒ Language Around HIV and Imprisonment .................................................................. 42 ⇒ How the Media Works – And How to Work the Media ............................................... 44 ⇒ Strategic Communications in Action .......................................................................... 50

Campaign Tools ................................................................................................................................. 53
⇒ Introduction ................................................................................................................... 54 ⇒ A Checklist for Choosing an Issue.............................................................................. 57 ⇒ The Importance of Base-Building in Our Work .......................................................... 60

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Acknowledgments
Thanks to the John M. Lloyd AIDS Project, sponsored by the John M. Lloyd Foundation and the Stony Point Center. To Gerald Borden, Julie Davids, Malcolm Gossett, Andres Guerrero, James Learned, Amanda Lugg, Reynolds Mulero, Jody Sokolower and Karen Williams for editorial assistance throughout the writing of this toolkit. To Carolyn Curtis, Natasha Davis and Emily Metzner for their research assistance throughout the writing of this toolkit. To Coco Jervis for her collaboration in writing the ‘Confronting HIV and Imprisonment: Two Intersecting Epidemics’ factsheet, which is included in this toolkit. To Julie Davids for compiling the Project UNSHACKLE Media Guide, a portion of which is included in this toolkit.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Introduction

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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About This Toolkit
Welcome to Project UNSHACKLE!

Uniting a Network on Sentencing and HIV/ AIDS with Community Knowledge Leading our Efforts
Why Project UNSHACKLE? Project UNSHACKLE is a groundbreaking effort, linking across movements to develop campaigns at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and mass imprisonment in the United States. Launched in May 2008, Project UNSHACKLE includes people who are formerly imprisoned, community members, researchers, HIV policy advocates, prison reform and social justice organizers, coalition-building veterans and other allies working together at the intersection of HIV and mass imprisonment. The goal of Project UNSHACKLE is to develop grassroots campaigns aimed at reducing new HIV infections tied to imprisonment in the United States. CHAMP and our allies are collaborating to kick start an ongoing national movement, building on and expanding existing networks for HIV prevention justice in and about the criminal justice system.

What’s in this Toolkit? This organizing toolkit is designed to support your group or organization’s work around HIV and imprisonment. In this toolkit, you’ll find: 1. Political Education. This section will give you some background on the history of imprisonment and that of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. We’ll also explain why imprisonment is a key force fueling HIV/AIDS in communities throughout the country. This section concludes with an outline of the Project UNSHACKLE vision for working at the intersection of HIV and imprisonment. 2. Strategic Communications. This section will help you build your skills for communicating about HIV and imprisonment. We will explain the basics of strategic communications, using examples on how to frame the various components of the Project UNSHACKLE vision. We’ll also give you pointers on working with the media, and examples of strategic communications work in action. 3. Campaign Tools. This section will give you practical step-by-step guidance for taking on work around HIV and imprisonment. We’ve included several different Campaign Tools – ranging from picking an issue to building your organizational base – so that your group can design a campaign that is responsive to the issues of your local community.

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What Else? Before we move into these sections of our toolkit, we want to give you a bit more background on HIV and imprisonment, as well Project UNSHACKLE. In the remaining pages of this introduction, we will talk about: 1. Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment 2. The Scope of Project UNSHACKLE

If you have any questions about the toolkit, how to get involved, or other ideas about Project UNSHACKLE, please contact: Project UNSHACKLE Email: unshackle@champnetwork.org Tel: (212) 937–7955, Ext. 20 Web: www.champnetwork.org/unshackle

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment
Two Intersecting Epidemics
According to the most recent statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice, there are over 2.3 million people imprisoned in the United States.1 Not only does the U.S. lead the industrialized world in the number of people imprisoned, but our nation also has the highest rate of imprisonment in world history. More than 1 in every 100 Americans is currently behind bars.2 Think about these facts: ⇒ At present, the annual U.S. prison budget is 60 billion dollars.3 ⇒ The vast majority of those imprisoned are men, but there are more than 200,000 women imprisoned and an unknown number of transpeople.4 ⇒ Black men are imprisoned at almost six times the rate as white men. They represent 35.4% of the overall prison population in the U.S., but less than 10% of the general U.S. population.5 ⇒ If U.S. imprisonment rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 in every 15 Americans will serve time in prison at some point in their lifetime.6 The Growing Imprisonment Crisis. The imprisonment crisis in the U.S. was created. There are now ten times as many people imprisoned than there were 20 years ago. This dramatic increase in the imprisonment rate is the direct result of policing and sentencing laws ushered in by the ‘war on drugs.’7 Anti-drug policies, like mandatory minimum sentences and three strike rules, have ensured that more people are being imprisoned for longer periods of time than ever before.8 In the last decade, these drug-sentencing laws have been combined with new policies designed to limit people’s access to public housing, jobs and other social safety net programs after imprisonment.9 Regulations enacted in the late 1990s, for example, bar people with drug convictions from living in public housing. As a result, people can rarely find the help they need after they’re released. Excluded from society’s traditional means of supporting themselves, the imprisonment cycle almost inevitably continues. A study by the Bureau of Justice documented that 2/3 of people will be rearrested within three years of their release.10 The effects of these anti-drug policies have been disproportionately felt by poor people of color. Imprisonment has now become a “normative life experience”11 for the majority of young black Americans living in urban communities in the United States. HIV Inside U.S. Prisons. Just as the ‘war on drugs’ was gaining speed in the 1980s, the AIDS crisis broke. By targeting the people who are at high risk for HIV, whether because of drug use or sex work, anti-drug policy has dramatically increased the number of people with HIV behind bars.12 Each year, as many as one in every four Americans living with HIV passes through a correctional facility.13 While in prison, people with HIV often face severely inadequate medical care, and leave prison sicker than when they entered. Moreover, people in prison face a lack of sexual health and HIV/AIDS education, as well as a lack of condoms, clean needles and other HIV-prevention tools. Each of these issues can significantly increase a person’s risk of contracting HIV while he or she is imprisoned. HIV Beyond the Prison Walls. But the relationship between HIV and imprisonment is about much more than what happens while people are imprisoned. A 2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that nearly 90% of people with HIV in Georgia’s male prisons were HIVpositive before they entered prison.14 Clearly, the explanation usually offered for the intertwining of the HIV and imprisonment crises – that ‘prisons are hotbeds for HIV transmission’ – is severely inaccurate. Rather, the intertwining of HIV and imprisonment points to a much deeper community-level crisis.15 Although HIV is transmitted by specific behaviors, research is beginning to document what people in communities hardest hit by anti-drug policies knew from the start of the AIDS epidemic: HIV risk and vulnerability is far more accurately assessed by the socio-economic injustices that make it harder for people to protect their health.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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It’s no coincidence that the communities most impacted by imprisonment also have the highest rates of HIV infection. The same laws and policies that have drastically increased the number of people imprisoned in the U.S. also facilitate the spread of HIV. The connection between these two crises is caused by and, in turn, creates, a web of social, political and economic disparities, showing that HIV is much more than just a virus.16 The Toll of Imprisonment on the Communities at Greatest Risk for HIV. The ‘war on drugs’ has been a war on relationships – a war on people’s parents, children, spouses, partners and caretakers. This has led to the disruption of family and social networks, weakening the already fragile emotional, financial and political support systems of entire communities. These are precisely the support systems that form the basis of strong and vibrant communities; these are the support systems that people usually depend on for help in times of need. Without these support systems, people may be forced to turn to alternate means of making ends meet, like sex work or drug sales, both of which increase people’s vulnerability to HIV and to imprisonment. If imprisoned, people face a tremendous number of hardships – emotional, physical and sexual victimization,17 isolation, stigma, family fragmentation, unmet mental and physical health needs and lack of educational opportunities or job training. Each of these hardships can serve as catalysts for riskier sex or drug use, further increasing vulnerability to HIV.18 This vulnerability to HIV doesn’t decrease once people are released from prison. People who are formerly imprisoned face considerable obstacles when they get out, such as lack of support, housing instability, lack of mental health or substance use counseling, and lack of job training or educational opportunities. Mental health and medical services – including access to HIV treatment and care – are critical for HIV positive people leaving prison, but are often almost impossible to access. Reexamining the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. As such, the drug sentencing laws and policies restricting people’s access to social services have become primary forces fueling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. And their impact has been profound. Since the beginning of the epidemic in the U.S., people of color have been disproportionately affected and infected by HIV/AIDS as well as imprisonment. Black people represent 14% of all illicit drug users but account for 37% of the people arrested for drug offenses and 56% of those imprisoned for drug offenses.19 As of 2005, Blacks and Latino/as represented 71% of all new AIDS cases, and the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS.20 Moreover, by every measure, Black people are being infected, getting sick and dying from AIDS at a much higher rate than any other racial/ethnic group. 49% of all new HIV diagnoses and 50% of new AIDS diagnoses are in Black people.21 The intersection between HIV and mass imprisonment has also taken a disproportionate toll on women. Women represent an increasing percentage of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic, and AIDS remains the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25 to 34.22 Since 1980, eight times as many women are imprisoned (compared to four times as many men), most for drug crimes, theft, or self-defense against abuse.23 Rates of HIV among imprisoned women are even higher than among men.24 Working at the Intersection of HIV and Imprisonment. In states across the country, individuals and organizations are already responding to the treatment, care and support needs of people with HIV who are imprisoned and the barriers people with HIV face after being released. A major next step in addressing the immediacy of the AIDS crisis inside prisons is ensuring access to condoms and other HIV prevention tools in prison. But comprehensively addressing the AIDS crisis in prisons requires not only work to mitigate people’s risk for HIV transmission, but also challenging those systems and structures that put people at risk for HIV in the first place. As such, reducing the number of people in prison, eliminating the barriers people face after imprisonment, and rebuilding community support networks are three critical HIV prevention justice concerns. This is why Project UNSHACKLE started. It is this work that we call you to join us in.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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References:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006,” http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim06.pdf (accessed September 2, 2008). Pew Center on the States, Public Safety Performance Project. “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008.” http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/8015PCTS_Prison08_FINAL_2-1-1_FORWEB.pdf (accessed April 17, 2008): 5. Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan, “U.S. Prison Population hits an all time high,” ABC News, June 6, 2008. http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=5009270 (accessed June 27, 2008). Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006,” http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim06.pdf (accessed September 2, 2008). Pew Center on the States, Public Safety Performance Project. “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008.” http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/8015PCTS_Prison08_FINAL_2-1-1_FORWEB.pdf (accessed April 17, 2008). Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Prevalence of Imprisonment in the United States,” http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm#prevalence (accessed June 27, 2008).
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Marc Mauer. Race to Incarcerate, revised and updated. New York: The New Press (2006): 91.

Marc Mauer and Ryan S. King. 2007. “A 25-Year Quagmire: The ‘War on Drugs’ and Its Impact on American Society.” http://www.sentencingproject.org/Admin/Documents/publications/dp_25yearquagmire.pdf (accessed April 27, 2008). Families Against Mandatory Minimums, “The case against mandatory sentences.” http://www.famm.org/Repository/Files/PrimerFinal.pdf (accessed April 28, 2008): 11-2. Jeremy Travis, “Invisible Punishment: An Instrument of Social Exclusion,” in Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, Mauer, Marc and Meda Chesney-Lind, eds. New York: The New Press (2002): 15-36. Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Special Report: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994,” http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/rpr94.pdf (accessed September 2, 2008). Quote by Bureau of Justice Statistics Director Jan Chaiken. Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan, “U.S. Prison Population hits an all time high,” ABC News, June 6, 2008. http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=5009270 (accessed June 27, 2008).
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Rachel Maddow, Pushing for Progress: HIV/AIDS in Prisons. (Washington, DC: National Minority AIDS Council, 2002).

Theodore M. Hammett, Mary Patricia Harmon and William Rhodes, “The Burden of Infectious Disease Among Inmates of and Releases From US Correctional Facilities, 1997.” American Journal of Public Health 92 (2002): 1791. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HIV Transmission Among Male Inmates in a State Prison System --Georgia, 1992—2005.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 21, 2006 / 55(15);421-426 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5515a1.htm?s_cid=mm5515a1_e (Accessed September 2, 2008). Robert Fullilove, “African Americans, Health Disparities and HIV/AIDS: Recommendations for Confronting the Epidemic in Black America,” http://www.nmac.org/index/cms-filesystemaction?file=grpp/african%20americans,%20health%20disparities%20and%20hiv/aids.pdf (accessed September 2, 2008). Arthur M. Fournier and Cynthia Carmichael, “Socioeconomic influences on the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus infection - The hidden risk.” Archives of Family Medicine 7 (1998): 214-217. Merrill Singer “AIDS and the Health Crisis of the United States Urban Poor – The Perspective of Critical Medical Anthropology.” Social Science and Medicine 39 (1995): 931-948. A study done by the San Francisco-based Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project on rape in California prisons found that 59 percent of transgender people reported being sexually assaulted in prison in 2006 compared to 4 percent of the general prison population. amfAR. “HIV in Correctional Settings: Implications for Prevention and Treatment Policy.” http://www.amfar.org/binarydata/AMFAR_PDF/pdf/000/000/185-1.pdf (accessed April 27, 2008): 2. Marc Mauer and Ryan S. King. 2007. “A 25-Year Quagmire: The ‘War on Drugs’ and Its Impact on American Society.” http://www.sentencingproject.org/Admin/Documents/publications/dp_25yearquagmire.pdf (accessed April 27, 2008). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Statistics and Surveillance,” http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/slides/dot/index.htm (accessed September 2, 2008). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HIV/AIDS among African Americans” http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/resources/factsheets/pdf/aa.pdf (accessed September 2, 2008).
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Ibid. Marc Mauer, Race to Incarcerate, revised and updated. New York: The New Press (2006): 204-5. Rachel Maddow, Pushing for Progress: HIV/AIDS in Prisons. (Washington, DC: National Minority AIDS Council, 2002). Please see the Project UNSHACKLE Bibliography, available in the Appendix of our organizing toolkit or online at www.champnetwork.org/unshackle, for a more extensive list of research on HIV and imprisonment.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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The Scope of Project UNSHACKLE
Working at the Intersection of HIV and Imprisonment
We know that each person who reads this toolkit will be coming from a different place. Some of us have been working in HIV/AIDS. Others have been working on imprisonment issues. Still others have been working on both HIV/AIDS and imprisonment. With Project UNSHACKLE, we don’t want to duplicate the ongoing and great work that people are already doing in these areas. Rather, we’re trying to connect those of us who are already in this work, and help us all go deeper into the intersection of HIV and imprisonment together. Here’s how Project UNSHACKLE fits into existing work around HIV and imprisonment… There is a lot of great work being done around HIV/AIDS! Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, people in the HIV/AIDS community have been working to address immediate prevention treatment and care needs. Activities like prevention outreach, testing/counseling, treatment education, case management, medial care, legal services, research, and faith-based support are all part of the vital social safety net for people living with or at risk for HIV. Activist work to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic also remains ongoing, including campaigns to address restrictions on HIV prevention interventions, access to treatment and medical care, and the stigma, homophobia and racism that are among the many social injustices fueling the epidemic. There is also a lot of great work being done around imprisonment! Ever since prisons were first built in the United States, there have also been people working to address the immediate crises created by the prison system. Programs initiated inside prisons, as well as reentry projects designed for people when they’re released, all help to offer a much-needed community lifeline to people during the imprisonment process. Activist work to challenge the injustices of the prison system also remains ongoing. Nationwide, there are campaigns to reduce the number of people in prison, reform existing drug-sentencing laws, address conditions inside prisons, ensure access to the services people need after release, expand community support, and eliminate prisons completely.

And there is a lot of great work being done around HIV and imprisonment! As the number of people with HIV in prison has increased over the years, so, too, has the work to address their needs during imprisonment and after release. These efforts have included prevention outreach in prison, advocating for prison health care standards, holding educational programs inside of prisons, offering individual support while people are imprisoned, providing transitional support when people are released and training other organizations in the basics of HIV/AIDS and imprisonment. .
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So how does Project UNSHACKLE fit with these existing areas of work?

Going Deeper into HIV and Imprisonment. With Project UNSHACKLE, we are trying to push this question of the relationship between HIV and imprisonment even further. We know that HIV and imprisonment intersect in the lives of individual people who are living with HIV in prison. But what about people who aren’t living with HIV? How does isolation during imprisonment and lack of services after release increase people’s vulnerability to HIV? And what about the communities that have been hardest hit by imprisonment? How does the massive loss of parents, caregivers and providers increase the HIV vulnerability of entire communities? These are the questions that arise from a prevention justice framing of HIV/AIDS, which understands that HIV vulnerability is fueled by structures of injustice that make it harder and harder for people to protect their health. These are precisely the questions that Project UNSHACKLE is trying to answer. With Project UNSHACKLE, we want to show how far-reaching the effects of imprisonment are within our communities. Every way that our community infrastructure is harmed by imprisonment puts our communities at increased risk for HIV. So access to prevention tools, like condoms, in prison is a critical HIV prevention strategy at the intersection of HIV and imprisonment. But work to change U.S. drug policy so that less people are going into prison and people have the support they need when they're released is also HIV prevention work. Project UNSHACKLE Goals. Project UNSHACKLE has four key goals for addressing how imprisonment puts all of our communities at greater risk for HIV: 1. Ensure that People Have Tools to Protect Themselves Against HIV, 2. Reduce the Number of People in Prison, 3. Eliminate the Barriers People Face when Coming Home from Prison, and 4. Rebuild Our Communities. Throughout this toolkit, we will give you more background on the intersection of HIV and imprisonment, a deeper explanation of the Project UNSHACKLE goals, ideas for communicating strategically about Project UNSHACKLE, and campaign tools that your organization can use in working towards the Project UNSHACKLE vision. For now, we just want to take a moment to thank you for the work you’re already doing and to welcome you to Project UNSHACKLE.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Political Education

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Introduction
Whether you’re just starting work around HIV and imprisonment or want to build on work you’re already doing, we know that talking about HIV and prisons can be challenging. Misinformation. One of the biggest challenges we face is weeding through the misinformation that surrounds HIV and imprisonment. Those of us who are living with HIV and/or working in AIDS know that we still need to combat HIV stigma, misinformation about who’s at risk for HIV, and myths about how HIV is transmitted. And those of us who are formerly imprisoned and/or working on prison issues know that there are many misconceptions about who’s locked up and why people are imprisoned. And when it comes to talking about how HIV and imprisonment overlap, the misinformation only gets trickier to navigate. Different Experiences. Simply figuring out how to work in coalition can be a tremendous challenge when we think about how divergent our personal and professional experiences are. HIV and imprisonment have touched each of our lives differently. We are:
people living with HIV people who have been imprisoned ,

families
&
loved
ones victims of crimes
advocates

activists service providers

researchers people of faith drug users people in recovery prison staff health care providers probation & parole officers lawyers social workers… Many of us wear several of these hats. Each of us brings a tremendous amount of expertise to the table – the real, personal and professional experience of what HIV and imprisonment mean and have meant in our lives, the people we’ve known, the places we’ve seen, the struggles we’ve been witness to. But our experiences are our own. There may be little overlap between what we know personally and what a friend or co-worker knows. And when there is overlap, our experiences often conflict. So when we take on work around HIV and imprisonment, there’s a lot that can come between us if we don’t think strategically about how to work through these differences and conflicts. Reaching Out. One important foundation for working together is finding a common language – some things we know are true about prisons, about HIV, and about how HIV and imprisonment intersect. So before talking about campaigns that you can start or join in your area, we want to give you some background information on why CHAMP thinks that imprisonment is an HIV prevention justice issue. In this section of the toolkit, we’ll talk about: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Where did prisons come from? How did we end up with so many people in prison? What has this done to our communities? How does all of this relate to HIV? How do we think about prisons through an HIV prevention justice lens?

In answering each of these questions, we’ll offer you some ideas for talking with other people in your organization and community.

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Reaching In. We also invite you to think about why working on HIV and imprisonment is important to you. Knowing our own motivations for getting involved in this work helps us to: ⇒ Recognize common goals with others who, on the surface, may seem to have views that conflict with ours, and ⇒ Identify issues we need to learn more about to better reach out to people in our organization or community. So as you read this section of the toolkit, keep these questions in mind: What in my own history drew me to work around HIV and imprisonment? Why am I choosing to do this work now? What changes do I hope to make by doing this work? What assumptions do I bring to this work? What information in this toolkit is new to me? How does this information change my thinking about HIV and/or imprisonment?

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Where Did Prisons Come From?
A History of Imprisonment in the United States
Forms of punishment have been around since the start of recorded history. And prisons have been around for a long time, too. But until the 1700s, prisons were only used to hold people who were awaiting trial. The preferred methods of punishment for crimes in the American colonies were generally public shaming, whipping, and, in severe cases, hanging. It wasn’t until the late 1700s and early 1800s that confinement in prisons arose as a new form of punishment. During this time, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York each piloted their own prison model. Across the Atlantic, London was also exploring its own prison designs, with construction beginning in the late 1700s. While many new prison laws and policies have been enacted over the last 200+ years, the actual structure of prisons has changed surprisingly little. The three-pronged approach of isolation from society, confinement in a cell, and forced labor remains the norm in most prisons across the United States. What has changed most dramatically is the number of people in prison. 1785—Castle Island Fortress, Massachusetts is the FIRST Prison in the U.S.

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THE MODEL: Isolate people from society and force them to do ‘hard labor’ to reform their minds, bodies and souls.

1790—Walnut Street Jail, Pennsylvania is the FIRST Penitentiary in the U.S.
THE MODEL: All-day solitary confinement where people work and meditate silently on what they’ve done wrong.

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1817—Auburn Prison, New York becomes the model for prisons in the U.S.
THE MODEL: Silent group work during the day and solitary confinement at night.

Prisons Become the Punishment Standard. So more prisons are built. Then even more prisons are built as these become increasingly overcrowded. Here is a short list of some prisons that opened in the 1800s…

1824—New York State starts building the New York City House of Refuge for delinquent children 1826—Pennsylvania opens Western Penitentiary 1828—Sing Sing Prison (then known as Mount Pleasant) opens in New York 1830—Pennsylvania opens Eastern Penitentiary 1838—New York opens the Halls of Justice, nicknamed “The Tombs” 1845—New York opens Clinton Prison 1874—Indiana Women’s Prison opens 1877—Massachusetts Reformatory Prison for Women opens 1878—New State Prison at Concord for men opens in Massachusetts 1887—New York House of Refuge for women opens

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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1870—National Prison Association is founded in response to severe prison practices; emphasizes reformation over suffering as the primary goal of imprisonment 1876—Elmira Reformatory opens in New York with an emphasis on reforming prisoners rather than punishing them 1893—New York establishes the State Use System to eliminate the exploitation of the labor of people in prison 1929—Prison riots erupt in Clinton Prison and Auburn Prison to protest overcrowding 1931—New York opens Attica State Prison as the safest prison (escape-proof) ever built and the solution to prison uprisings. While over 100 years had passed since the opening of Auburn Prison in 1817, Attica still uses the “silent congregate style” of the Auburn System. 1954—American Prisons Association changes its name to Correctional Association to show a change in emphasis

Concerns about prison policies and the goal of imprisonment are mounting, leading to an era of Prison Reform, Prison Protest, and Prison Restriction.

The first Mandatory Minimum Drug Laws are passed in response to rising public fear that marijuana could cause insanity, criminality and death.

1951—Boggs Act establishes the first mandatory minimums for drug sales and possession, and increases the maximum drug-related fines and sentences that can be imposed 1956—Narcotics Control Act increases the penalties established by the Boggs Act and increases mandatory minimum violations of existing drug laws

1964—U.S. government declares a “War on Poverty” 1964—Civil Rights Act is passed 1965—Vietnam War begins 1965—Governor of New York appoints a Special Committee to reform the prison system from a “purely custodian to a rehabilitative basis” by studying the treatment of offenders 1970—New York’s Special Committee changes the name of maximum security prisons to maximum security “correctional facilities” – but the prisons undergo no reform 1971—Attica Prison Uprising is staged to demand better prison conditions; repression ordered by the New York governor leaves 39 dead 1972—National Council on Crime and Delinquency calls for a halt to prison construction

Prison Conditions Reach a Breaking Point, and there is a growing call to abandon, or at least severely limit, the use of prisons as the punishment standard.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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1972—Drug Enforcement Administration is created 1973—Rockefeller Drug Laws pass in New York, creating strict mandatory minimum sentencing for drug convictions Bureau of Justice Prison Statistics — 1974 1,819,000 U.S. adults have done time in state or federal prison 216,000 people are currently imprisoned 1,603,000 people are formerly imprisoned 1981—President Reagan launches the “War on Drugs” 1985—Crack epidemic explodes 1986—Anti-Drug Abuse Act passes, creating federallevel mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions 1988—A second Anti-Drug Abuse Act passes, adding dramatic disparities by drug type (i.e. crack vs. cocaine) and stiffening drug conspiracy charges. The 1986 and 1988 Acts serve as models for states’ mandatory minimum laws. 1994—3-Strikes Laws pass in California, mandating a sentence of 25 years to life for a third felony conviction (even nonviolent). 3-Strikes Laws are copied by 22 states and the federal government. 1994—President Clinton passes the Crime Bill, making it a federal crime for a person to possess an “assault weapon.”

The potential for massive prison reform and reduction falls by the wayside with the rise of ‘Tough on Crime’ and the ‘War on Drugs.’

The ‘War on Drugs’ expands beyond increased policing and harsher sentences to include New Laws and Policies that Restrict People’s Access to Services after Their Release from Prison.

1994—California passes Anti-Immigrant Proposition 187, denying illegal aliens access to benefits or services 1996—Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) replaces welfare system. Under the new welfare policies, people who have felony drug convictions can’t receive cash assistance or food stamps. 1998—Federal statutes require public housing agencies to exclude individuals who engage in “drug-related criminal activity” 1998—Higher Education Act passes, making people with drug convictions ineligible for student loans

Bureau of Justice Prison Statistics — 2001 5,618,000 U.S. adults have ever done time in state or federal prison 1,319,000 people are currently imprisoned 4,299,000 people are formerly imprisoned

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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1998—California Proposition 36 passes, offering the option of diversion into drug treatment instead of incarceration. Several states follow suit and adopt diversion to treatment programs for low-level drug offenses. 2007—The U.S. Sentencing Commission amends the federal sentencing guidelines, reducing the severity of crack cocaine offenses. The decision is applied retroactively, allowing all those sentenced under the previous federal guidelines to file motions to have their sentences reduced in accordance with the new guidelines. 2008—Second Chance Act passes, providing federal dollars to fund services specifically designed to meet the needs of people who are coming home after being imprisoned

After nearly 30 years of ‘Tough on Crime’ policies, some reforms have been made to address The Root Causes of Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and The Needs of People Recently Released from Prison. Activists across the country are working to get rid of the mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws and reduce the barriers people face after their release from prison.

Pew Center on the States Report on Prisons — 2008 1,596,127 people are currently doing time in state and federal prisons 723,131 people are currently doing time in county jails A total of 2,319,258 people are imprisoned in the United States. More than one in every 100 Americans is behind bars.

Where do we go from here?

Further Reading
If you want to read more about the history of imprisonment in the United States., here are some sources we found to be particularly helpful and reliable: Real Cost of Prisons Timeline www.realcostofprisons.org/materials/timeline.pdf Prevalence of Imprisonment in the US Population, 1974-2001 by the Bureau of Justice www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/piusp01.pdf One in 100: Behind Bars in America in 2008 by the Pew Center on the States www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/8015PCTS_Prison08_FINAL_2-11_FORWEB.pdf Race to Incarcerate, revised and updated by Marc Mauer New York: The New Press, 2006 Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment edited by Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind. New York: The New Press, 2002.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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How Did We End Up with So Many People in Prison?
The ‘War on Drugs’
Ever since prisons were created, there have also been efforts to reform them. Sometimes these efforts tried to expand the scope of prisons, pushing for stricter sentences and harsher conditions of confinement. Other reform efforts tried to restrict prisons, raising questions about the purpose of and need for locking people away from society. Even the earliest prison models were reforms of one another. When the Quakers came up with the penitentiary model in Pennsylvania, they were reacting to Massachusetts’s model, believing that it was cruel to force people to do hard labor as penance for crimes. And when the designers of the Auburn System in New York abandoned Pennsylvania’s all-day solitary confinement model for communal work groups, they did so because too many people at Auburn had mental breakdowns after being locked in solitary confinement. Explaining Why Crime Happens. The inventors of these systems, and many of the reformers who came after them, were primarily concerned with why crime happens. Or, put simply, why do people do ‘bad things’? The answer most reformers came up with was that the blame lay with the individual – If you do bad things, you must be a bad person. While prison reformers over the years have differed on whether ‘bad people’ can become ‘good’ again and what it means to be ‘good,’ the call to address the root causes of crime has been far quieter. Imagine how different the approaches to crime might be if reformers were instead asking: ⇒ Why were most people in the earliest prisons convicted of property crimes like theft? ⇒ Were they all ‘bad people’? Or did living in poverty create a seemingly impossible situation where the choice was either steal and eat or don’t steal and starve? ⇒ What would it take to ensure that people’s basic needs were met? Criminalizing Drug Use. When the architects of the ‘war on drugs’ stepped in to address drug use, their approach wasn’t new. Drug use was labeled a personal failing. The harm that addiction could cause to others was considered one of the clearest signs that people who use drugs are ‘bad people.’ Questions about why people use drugs and the challenges of recovering from the disease of addiction didn’t even register. Nor did the lack of access to drug treatment programs, particularly for poor people. Rather, the goal was to get the ‘bad people’ away from the rest of us as quickly as possible so that no more harm could be done. What distinguished the ‘war on drugs’ from previous approaches to crime was the scale of the policing and sentencing laws. Police budgets increased dramatically nationwide. And people who were arrested were aggressively prosecuted by district attorneys. If sentenced, people faced significantly longer prison terms than ever before. And when released, social services had been so severely cut that people could rarely find the support they needed to get back on their feet. So prison admissions continued to climb, steadily building the prison system we know today, in which more than one out of every 100 adults is behind bars. Since the start of the ‘war on drugs,’ all of these policing and sentencing laws have disproportionately affected poor people of color. At present, one out of every nine Black men between the ages of 20 and 34 in the United States is imprisoned. And the majority of these people are from the poorest communities in the country.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Harsher Sentencing Laws. Drug-related sentencing laws have played a huge role in building today’s prison system. Because of these laws, more people are being imprisoned for drug-related offenses, and they are serving much longer sentences. When prison admissions and sentences increase without a parallel increase in prison releases, the number of people in prison increases dramatically. Here’s some background information on the sentencing laws ushered in through the ‘war on drugs’: ⇒ Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws. The Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988 included provisions for severe mandatory minimum drug sentences – five or ten years depending on the amount of the drug. Within the federal system, there is no possibility of parole at any point during a person’s mandatory minimum sentence. These federal laws served as models for state-level drug sentencing laws. ⇒ Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines. In 1984, Congress established the U.S. Sentencing Commission to fix sentencing disparities among judges. The Commission wrote sentencing ranges for all convictions, allowing judges to hand down a sentence at the high or low end of the range based on the circumstances of a case. In 1987, drug-sentencing guidelines were increased to match federal mandatory minimums, removing judicial discretion at sentencing. ⇒ 3-Strikes Laws. A further outgrowth of the mandatory minimum sentencing was ‘3-Strikes Laws,’ mandating life in prison for a third felony conviction, without eligibility for parole until twenty-five years into a person’s sentence. Beginning in California, twenty-six states and the federal government now have ‘3-Strikes Laws’ on the books. Additional state-initiated provisions include severe mandatory sentences for people selling drugs near schools. Loss of Social Services. The 1990s brought about a new wave of laws to limit people’s rights even after they completed their sentences. These reforms have made it nearly impossible for people to secure jobs, find housing, receive financial assistance, and support their families. Most people return to neighborhoods where such services are already scarce, so they often have to resort to things that put them at risk of rearrest just to make ends meet. These are some of the social services people no longer have access to after being imprisoned: ⇒ Voting Rights. Forty-eight states have some restriction on voting rights for people with felony convictions, with seven states having a lifetime ban, resulting in the permanent disenfranchisement of 5.3 million Americans. 13% of Black men are unable to vote because of these restrictions, compared with 2% of the general population. ⇒ Employment. As restrictions on hiring teachers, childcare workers, and medical professionals with criminal records have increased, so, too, has the ease for conducting background checks in professions without such restrictions. This has created severe barriers for people trying to find work after imprisonment. ⇒ Educational Loans. The Higher Education Act of 1998 makes anyone convicted of a drugrelated offense ineligible for student loans and other education assistance. ⇒ Public Housing. Statutes enacted in the 1990s allow public housing agencies and Section 8 providers to deny housing to individuals who have engaged in ‘any drug-related criminal activity or other criminal activity which would adversely affect the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises [by others].’ ⇒ Welfare Assistance. Among the many changes ushered in through the welfare reform law of 1996 was the requirement that states permanently ban individuals with felony drug convictions from receiving cash assistance and food stamps. Under the law, violations of parole or probation also results in a temporary ineligibility for benefits.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Rising Disparities in the U.S. Prison Population. These laws and polices don’t, in and of themselves, discriminate against people. But the way they’ve been enforced does. The ‘war on drugs’ has disproportionately affected poor communities of color in the United States, increasingly poor women of color. Drug use is equal across race lines, but people of color, particularly Black people, are arrested, convicted and sentenced at dramatically higher rates than white people are. ⇒ Black people represent 14% of all illicit drug users but account for 37% of the people arrested for drug offenses and 56% of those imprisoned for drug offenses. ⇒ One of the most widely cited sentencing laws is that five grams of crack carries the same mandatory five-year sentence as five-kilograms of powder cocaine; Black people have consistently represented 80-85% of those charged with crack offenses. While federal crack sentencing guidelines were reduced on November 1, 2007, the federal-level crack mandatory minimum is still on the books, as are state-level mandatory minimums. ⇒ With 35% of Black men between the ages of 25 and 34 currently imprisoned, on probation or on parole, it is hardly an overstatement to say that an entire generation of Black men is behind bars. These drug-sentencing laws have also disproportionately affected poor people. In poor communities, lack of mental health and drug treatment facilities means that such issues often go undiagnosed or untreated. Furthermore, lack of money for a good attorney can mean that people with low-level or firsttime drug offenses get prison sentences instead of court-mandated drug treatment. ⇒ According to a 1997 Bureau of Justice survey of people in state prisons, 68% had not completed high school, 53% earned less than $1,000 in the month prior to their imprisonment, and nearly half were either unemployed or working only part-time prior to their arrest. ⇒ The crack/cocaine sentencing disparity also has class implications. When the crack epidemic hit, it struck primarily poor neighborhoods. So a disproportionate number of people sentenced under the five grams/five years mandatory minimum are poor. The ‘war on drugs’ has also dramatically increased the number of women in prison. With expansions that have been made to drug conspiracy laws, women have increasingly been arrested and sentenced for the same charges as the dealers they may be doing lookout for. ⇒ Since 1980, eight times as many women are imprisoned (compared to four times as many men), most for drug crimes, theft, or self-defense against abuse. ⇒ 75% of these women are mothers, two-thirds with children under the age of 18. An estimated 1.5 million children have at least one parent in prison. Understanding the Statistics. These statistics are alarming; they can also be overwhelming. Percentages and calculations on this scale are often hard to imagine. And breakdowns like this by race, class and gender often obscure the fact that these statistics are talking about the same people, the same communities. What’s more, they don’t provide us with a clear picture of the lived experience in communities that are rapidly losing their fathers and mothers, their caregivers and providers. Let’s turn to a more personal look at the toll that the ‘war on drugs’ has taken on our communities…

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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What Has This Done to Our Communities?
The Lived Experience Behind the Statistics
⇒ What does it mean to a community to know that one out of every three boys growing up will spend time in prison? ⇒ What does it do to the fabric of the family and the community to have such a substantial proportion of its young men enmeshed in the criminal justice system? ⇒ What is the effect on a community’s influence when one quarter of the Black men in some states can’t vote due to a felony conviction? Looking Inside. Harsher sentencing laws have meant that people convicted of drug-related offenses are now being imprisoned for upwards of five, ten, twenty years. During that time, they’ll be confined within a system designed to make real human connections impossible. Isolated cells, separated blocks, restrictions on where you can and can’t go, restrictions on how many people you can and can’t meet with, restrictions on how often and for how long visitors can come, restrictions on intimacy and affection… And the punishment for breaking any of the rules is further separation from whatever human connections remain – solitary confinement. Many of us have heard people vow, “do the time, don’t let the time do you” – a reminder to always keep resisting. This is the nature of being held within a system that takes away all the power you have. How do you live in a system that totally dehumanizes you and not begin to believe that you deserve to be treated this way? How do you live in this system and not start to believe that your goal is to be the one with the power so that you can’t be dehumanized anymore? Looking Outside. Many family members say that when a loved one is doing time, they’re doing time as well. When a loved one is imprisoned, families are left to cope with financial stress, childcare issues, and diminishing support structures. The loss of a loved one’s income is even more pressing because of prison collect call fees, expenses for prison visits, and lawyer fees, creating an often-impossible financial situation for family members. This financial stress makes it more difficult for imprisoned parents to stay connected with their children, undermining family bonds over the five, ten, twenty years of a parent’s imprisonment. The social stigma of having a loved one in prison often serves to further disconnect these families from desperately needed communities of support, whether this disconnection is a result of outright community hostility or self-imposed silence to avoid that hostility. Finally, the sheer need for companionship may mean that those imprisoned and those left behind take new partners, relationships that often remain shrouded in silence out of a desire to honor one’s commitment to the pre-imprisonment relationship. Looking Beyond. When people are released from prison, family and community infrastructure is rarely improved. People face a series of “invisible punishments,” laws and policies that diminish the rights of people who are formerly imprisoned. Lack of income means there’s no way to pay for basic needs like food; lack of housing means living in a shelter or on the streets; and lack of drug treatment leads to high rates of relapse that can hasten the road back to prison. Take a Minute… The Real Cost of Prisons has three ‘maps’ of the barriers people face after they get out of jail or prison. Take a minute to go through these maps, and imagine how you would figure out how to earn money, reunite with your family, and find housing if you were just getting out of prison. You can find the maps at: www.realcostofprisons.org/materials/obstacles.pdf

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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What Does All of this Have to do with HIV?
A Prevention Justice History of HIV/AIDS
Just as the ‘war on drugs’ was gaining speed in the 1980s, the AIDS crisis broke. And while AIDS is still tracked by behaviors that can transmit HIV, research is starting to document what people in communities hardest hit by the ‘war on drugs’ knew from the start of the epidemic: HIV risk and vulnerability are far more accurately assessed by the socio-economic injustices that make it harder for people to protect their health. Imprisonment and HIV Risk. The ‘war on drugs’ has been a war on relationships – a war on people’s parents, spouses, partners and caretakers. These are precisely the relationships that form the basis of strong and vibrant communities. These are the relationships people depend on for assistance and support in times of need. Here are two examples of how imprisonment can increase HIV risk: Example 1: When her boyfriend was imprisoned, Tammy was suddenly saddled with making ends meet to support her family. Her kids needed food, and they all needed to keep a roof over their heads. But a minimum wage job wasn’t going to pay enough, and welfare wasn’t going to come soon enough. What else? There was the guy up the street who had always been sweet on her, and Tammy knew he would help her out if she let him come around the house. Plus the loneliness had already started to set in; her boyfriend was away for 15 years… Or, what? Go back out and work the streets again like she did back during her addiction? Well, it was the quickest way to get money. And people always paid more if you didn’t use a condom… Example 2: Tyrone had been dealing with his mom’s addiction for as long as he could remember. But this time it had gotten really bad. When his mom was picked up, he was almost relieved; he was going to live with his grandmom and his uncle. What he hadn’t expected was that his grandmom was going to pick up two extra jobs to cover his mom’s lawyer fees and the collect calls and all. And whenever his grandmom left, his uncle started acting all creepy, getting close to him and stuff. So where was there to go? In the streets, all the other kids were dealing. But at least they knew what he was going through; their folks were locked up, too. And there were a couple of girls he liked who hung around. Plus, the kids never made him do anything but keep lookout. Rising Disparities in Both Epidemics. As the ‘war on drugs’ has progressed, more and more people have been put in such impossible situations. And because of the racial and class bias that has characterized the ‘War on Drugs,’ the health crisis created in the last thirty years has affected poor communities of color the most, particularly Black communities. The drug sentencing laws and loss of social services in the ‘war on drugs’ have become primary forces fueling the Black AIDS epidemic in the United States. And the impact has been profound. By every measure, Black people are being infected, getting sick and dying from AIDS at a much higher rate than any other racial/ethnic group. 49% of all new HIV diagnoses and 50% of new AIDS diagnoses are in Black people. Black women account for 66% of new HIV/AIDS cases among women in the United States, and AIDS is the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25 to 34. By targeting people at high risk for HIV, whether because of drug use or sex work, the ‘war on drugs’ has also dramatically increased the number of people with HIV behind bars. Each year, as many as one in four Americans living with HIV passes through a correctional facility. Because of sex – whether by choice or by coercion – and drug use in prison, the risk of HIV transmission is real. This risk isn’t being addressed because access to condoms, clean needles, anti-rape interventions and other harm reduction tools remain scarce in jails and prisons throughout the country.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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How Do We Think About Prisons through an HIV Prevention Justice Lens?
Different Approaches to Crime and Punishment
It’s clear that neither criminalizing drugs nor stigmatizing HIV has stopped these crises. In fact, these approaches have made both of the crises worse. With Project UNSHACKLE, we want to take a fresh look at HIV and imprisonment and think about what it would take to really address the needs of our communities. From an Individualized Lens… HIV and imprisonment have both been framed as individual problems brought on by individuals’ actions. HIV is often talked about as something you get because of engaging in risky behavior. And imprisonment is something that happens after you do something ‘bad.’ In both cases, the underlying assumption is, you get what you deserve.

To a Prevention Justice Lens… An HIV prevention justice lens helps us look beyond this individualized framing of HIV and imprisonment. Rethinking prisons through an HIV prevention justice lens means that we take as our starting point that vulnerability to HIV infection comes not from the behaviors that can transmit HIV, but, rather, from people’s entrapment in socio-economic injustices that make it difficult for them to protect their health. Asking Different Questions. Through this justice lens, we can ask deeper questions about the root causes of the HIV and imprisonment crises in our communities, questions like: ⇒ Why do HIV and prisons disproportionately affect the same communities? ⇒ How are crime and addiction best addressed? ⇒ How has the ‘war on drugs’ damaged our communities? ⇒ Why is it difficult for people to protect themselves against HIV? ⇒ What would it take to have safe and vibrant communities again? When we ask these deeper questions, we realize that HIV and imprisonment aren’t isolated crises that happen to overlap in some people’s lives. Rather, they’re interdependent crises that, together, are hurting our communities more and more. Listening for Different Answers. Today, countless numbers of people are wading through the ‘war on drugs’ policies that restrict their access to services, benefits, housing and jobs. And people are often suffering these struggles in silence, without the support of community. From their vivid memories of loved ones dying, to their negative experiences with service providers, to their fruitless attempts to fight for their needs – every step they’ve taken to fight back and carve out a different path for their lives has been crushed. The cumulative impact of these experiences has left many people convinced that things can’t change. Lifting the hold that HIV and imprisonment have had on their lives requires more than urgings not to fall prey to despair. People need to be able to imagine a life beyond HIV and imprisonment. People need proof that things can change.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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The Project UNSHACKLE Vision. We know that the way that HIV and drug use are being addressed harms all of us, including those of us who aren’t at highest risk for getting HIV or being imprisoned. So in mapping out the Project UNSHACKLE vision, we spent a lot of time thinking about what it would take to have safe and vibrant communities TODAY, TOMORROW and in the FUTURE. Under the current criminal justice system, the approach is to punish people who have committed crimes by locking them away from the rest of society. But what’s left out of the equation? ⇒ What About Victims of Crimes? Real harm is caused to people who are victims of crimes, whether that harm is financial hardship, emotional stress, or both. If we think about conflicts we have with family and friends, it takes a lot of work to heal such breaches of trust. And the current criminal justice system isn’t set up to do this. Rather, such harm is addressed by creating more harm – handing down harsh prison sentences.
⇒ Who Are Victims? Who Are Perpetrators? Many of the people imprisoned across the country

are themselves victims of crimes. Sometimes these are traumas in their histories, like childhood sexual abuse, that they never received support for. Other times they are imprisoned for these traumas, as is the case with the large number of women charged with attempted murder for defending themselves against abuse. ⇒ What About the Root Causes of Crime? The current criminal justice approach also ignores the root causes of crime. If we look at the safest neighborhoods in the country, they’re often the ones where people have strong schools, good jobs and safe housing. Locking people away for long periods of time does nothing to increase access to education, employment and housing. Even though there are nearly two million more people imprisoned now than in 1970, there has been little change in the U.S. crime rate. With Project UNSHACKLE, we’re trying to build a broad network united around a different approach to crime. We envision living in a world: ⇒ Where we can all create the lives we want to lead, ⇒ Where we all get the support and services we need when we fall on hard times, ⇒ Where, when crime happens, we’re able to talk about the real harm that’s caused in our lives, ⇒ Where our approach to crime actually helps us heal that harm and restores justice in our communities, and ⇒ Where all of this brings us ever closer to living in a world without HIV. This is what the Project UNSHACKLE name is all about!

Uniting a Network on Sentencing and HIV/ AIDS with Community Knowledge Leading our Efforts
We know that if we’re going to realize this Project UNSHACKLE vision, we all need to be at the table, sharing our personal and professional knowledge.

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Next Steps for the Project UNSHACKLE Vision. There’s a lot of work to be done if we’re going to realize the Project UNSHACKLE vision. And we know that the crises created by HIV and imprisonment are only getting worse in our communities. This is why we’ve been thinking about next steps we can take so that we can begin working towards this vision for TODAY, for TOMORROW and for the FUTURE. We know that in states across the country, individuals and organizations are already responding to the treatment, care and support needs of people with HIV who are imprisoned and the barriers people with HIV face after being released. So we wanted to figure out what additional work around HIV and imprisonment is needed. Here’s what we came up with:

⇒ Ensure that People Have Tools to Protect Themselves Against HIV. A major step in
addressing the AIDS crisis inside prisons is to make sure that HIV prevention programs are institutionalized in every jail and every prison across the country. Without easy access to harm reduction tools and anti-rape interventions, it’s impossible for people to protect themselves against HIV infection while in prison.

⇒ Reduce the Number of People in Prison. We know that addressing the AIDS crisis in prisons requires not only work to reduce people’s risk for HIV, but also work to challenge those systems that have put people at risk for HIV in the first place. For people who are currently or formerly imprisoned, the AIDS crisis has been created. The harsh drugrelated sentencing laws of the ‘war on drugs’ have dramatically increased the number of people currently imprisoned, disrupting the relationships and institutions that usually hold our communities together in times of need. All of this is going to be difficult to fix as long as so many parents, spouses, partners and caretakers are taken from our communities. So we believe that we need to repeal the unjust ‘war on drugs’ sentencing laws that have so many members of our community locked away for long periods of time, and that we need to fight for the immediate expansion of alternative sentencing programs, like diversion to drug treatment, so that our loved ones can access the treatment they need. ⇒ Eliminate the Barriers People Face when Coming Home from Prison. The restrictions placed on people with criminal records have further disrupted our communities by making it nearly impossible for our loved ones to access the care and support they need when they get out of prison. People are wading through decades of ‘tough on crime’ legislation that limits their access to services and prevents them from getting much needed support. These experiences have left many people convinced that services simply don’t exist. And in many cases they’re right. So we believe that there’s an urgent need to restore access to the social services people with criminal records are currently barred from. We also want to see the money currently being spent on increasing policing and prisons redirected into community projects, like addiction programs, education, jobs, and housing – projects that will ensure that people have the support they need after coming home from prison.

⇒ Rebuild Our Communities. Even if campaigns to reform sentencing laws and reentry

policies are successful, new laws on their own can’t undo all of the damage that the ‘war on drugs’ has caused. Our communities have endured a 30-year assault, leaving them totally fractured. Funds, laws, and education won’t solve the problem if there is no community for these things to reach. So we believe that realizing our Project UNSHACKLE vision also requires a comprehensive approach to community rebuilding to heal the social, economic and political infrastructure that has been eroded over the years.

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Working Towards the Project UNSHACKLE Vision. In the remaining sections of this toolkit, you’ll find strategic communications resources and campaign tools to support your organization in addressing these goals. There are contact people listed throughout who are there to lend their support to you, and there are lots of skills-building exercises to help you decide on the best campaign to start in your area.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Strategic Communications

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Introduction
One of the biggest challenges we face in coming together to do work around HIV and imprisonment is figuring out how to talk to other people. As we discussed in the Political Education section of this toolkit, HIV and imprisonment both have long histories of being framed as individual problems brought on by individual actions. HIV is often talked about as something you get because of your risky, irresponsible behavior. And imprisonment is usually discussed as the consequence you face when you do something ‘bad.’ In both cases, the underlying assumption is, you get what you deserve. Thinking Strategically. These are attitudes that all of us come up against every day in our personal and professional work around HIV and imprisonment. We may face a gatekeeper who holds the keys to a client getting into detox. Or we may try to explain to the media why mandatory minimums have put our communities at greater risk for HIV. Whatever the scenario, we’ve all had a lot of practice figuring out what biases people hold around HIV and imprisonment, so that we can know how to best frame the issues that we’re advocating for. That’s strategic communications at work! CHAMP considers strategic communications to be a critical part of meeting the Project UNSHACKLE goals. We intentionally talk about “strategic communications” rather than simply “media skills” or “communication.” Whether we’re working on individual advocacy or changing institutional systems, a strategic approach to all of our communications will help us achieve our vision. And if we hold true to our vision in all of our communications – whether in an organization newsletter, during a staff in-service, in a coalition meeting or at a press conference – we’re more likely to make our vision a lived reality. Here’s an example… Imagine you’re a prison case manager. It’s your job to get people’s benefits turned on after they get out of prison. Most people who come to your office don’t have photo IDs, social security cards, or birth certificates. And you know the rules – no ID, no benefits. You have the paperwork so folks can get a new social security card and birth certificate, and apply for a photo ID. But the process takes a long time. During that time, people can’t go to the doctor and don’t have money for food. A few times, you’ve been lucky, and the welfare caseworker has been willing to accept the person’s prison wristband picture as identification. These situations are challenging and frustrating. But they also show that you’re already a strategic communicator. You know how to talk about the photo ID problem; you know the hierarchy at the welfare office; you know who needs to sign off on the policy; you know what training needs to happen so that all the welfare caseworkers know about the policy change; and you have lots of case manager friends who could help you out. All you have to do is gather your resources, make a plan and put it into action. In this section of the toolkit, we will talk about: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. An Overview of Strategic Communications Communicating about HIV and Imprisonment Messaging the Project UNSHACKLE Vision A Sample Strategic Communications Plan Language Around HIV and Imprisonment How the Media Works – And How to Work the Media Strategic Communications in Action

By the end of this section, you’ll have the tools you need to communicate strategically about HIV and imprisonment issues. So let’s get started!

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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An Overview of Strategic Communications
First Steps Before You Start Spreading the Word
One of the most important parts of strategic communications is planning. A lot of background work goes into launching an effective communications strategy – whether it means making a flyer about an upcoming community meeting or holding a press conference about the issue your organization is working on. You have to know what you want, who you’re trying to reach, why they should care about your issue, and how you want them to help. Making a Strategic Communications Plan. Most of these questions are intuitive – you probably answer them without even knowing that you’re doing it. But strategic communications means intentionally thinking about the questions we ask and the plans we develop. That way, we know we’ve considered all of the problems that could come up, and that our communications will be as effective as possible. And when we’re effective, we win on the issues we’re fighting for! To show what we mean, here’s a diagram of the steps that you’ll go through in developing a strategic communications plan:

Review Lessons Learned from Previous Communications Work

Analyze Your Capacity
Establish Your Goals
Identify Your Target
Identify Your Audience
Assess Your Audience

Frame Your Issue
Craft Your Message Practice Your Media Tactics Track, Evaluate & Celebrate Your Work

Launch Your Communications Strategy!
Now we’ll walk through each of these steps…
Adapted from the SPIN Project www.spinproject.org

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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The Steps of a Strategic Communications Plan:
1. Review Lessons Learned in Previous Communications Work. Before you start planning your communications strategy for the work your organization wants to do, take a minute to think through your previous communications work. What were your biggest wins? What were your biggest blunders? Since everything from HIV information to your organization’s membership is always evolving, try to restrict your examples to the last year or two. And think broadly here. There’s more to communications work than holding a press conference. Are people in your organization speaking with a shared language around HIV and imprisonment? Has your organization put out any new brochures or educational materials? How are communications decisions made in your organization? 2. Analyze Your Capacity. This is the first and probably most important step in making a communications strategy. All of us have our own HIV and imprisonment communications wish lists – what we wish we saw in television programming, commercials, newspapers, billboards. And with infinite time and resources, we could probably make all of that happen. But if we’re going to do incredible communications work here and now, we have to work from our organizations’ capacities. Here are some questions to guide you in assessing how big of a communications project your organization can take on: Who will do the work? What skills do they bring? How much time do they have available? How much money do you have for this work? How well known is your organization? Remember: People in your organization who have been imprisoned are poised to be great communicators on your issue! 3. Establish Your Goals. This is why you’re launching communications efforts in the first place. What do you want? What is your positive vision for the future? Do you want to start your own campaign? Do you want to join an existing coalition? For ideas, you may want to look back at ‘How Do We Think About Prisons with an HIV Prevention Justice Lens?’ in the Political Education section of this toolkit where we talk about the Project UNSHACKLE vision. Or you may want to flip forward to the Campaign Tools section for ideas on goals tied to specific campaign work. We’ve also included ‘A Sample Strategic Communications Plan’ in this section of the toolkit for AIDS service organizations that want to join a sentencing reform campaign. Ultimately, this conversation needs to happen amongst all the people in your organization who are going to be involved in work around HIV and imprisonment. Establishing goals is a unique opportunity for all of you to talk about your personal visions, to work through disagreements, and to reach a shared vision for your work together. 4. Identify Your Target. Once you know what you want, the next step is figuring out who can give you what you want. For example, when ACT UP Philadelphia wanted to get condoms into the Philadelphia Prison System (check out ‘Strategic Communications in Action’ in this section of the toolkit), they knew they needed to get the prison commissioner to sign off on the policy. But it was also important to get prison administrators, guards, and medical staff – as well as the citizens of Philadelphia – to lend their support, so that the commissioner knew that he had both the go-ahead and the responsibility to sign off on the condoms policy. If you’re joining an existing coalition, you’ll know who your target is. But if you’re starting your own campaign, you’ll have to identify your organization’s target. Here are some questions to consider: Who can give you what you want? Can you directly influence this individual’s decisions? If not, who do you need on your side to get what you want? 5. Identify Your Audience. Your audience is who you need on your side to get what you want. That may include new people you want to recruit to support your work, people you want to motivate to stay involved, and people you want to fund your work. If you’re joining an existing prison coalition, your audience is most likely the AIDS community – getting them involved in work on prison issues. If you’re starting your own campaign, your organization will have to figure out who you need on your side to get what you want.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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6. Assess Your Audience. Once you’ve identified your audience, the next step is figuring out what to say. There are a lot of different ways to talk about HIV and imprisonment – public health concerns, concerns about racial injustice, and concerns about community infrastructure. But strategic communications work is about teaching people, not just coming up with a catchy slogan. So before you can figure out what to say in your communications work, you have to know who you’re talking to. Be as specific as possible in doing research on your audience. Key things to think about here are: What does your audience care about? Has your audience supported you before? Why would your audience be sympathetic to your goals? Why would your audience oppose your goals? If you need more information, talk to people! Hold a focus group, do a survey, or attend a community meeting. In all of this, remember to listen. You aren’t trying to convince your target audience of anything yet. 7. Frame Your Issue. Framing your issue is when you take your organization’s goals and put them together with the information you’ve learned about your audience. You’re trying to describe your issue in a concise way that will capture your organization’s vision, but will also make sense to your audience based on their values and needs. Questions to think about here: What is this issue really about? Who is affected? Who are the players? Check out ‘Communicating about HIV and Imprisonment’ in this section of the toolkit for a deeper discussion of how to frame issues. 8. Craft Your Message. Once you have a way of framing your issues for your audience, the next step is to put some language around the problem that you see, the vision you have for what could be different, and the actions that need to be taken to achieve that vision. Check out ‘Communicating about HIV and Imprisonment’ and ‘Messaging the Project UNSHACKLE Vision’ for some tips on crafting your message. 9. Practice Your Media Tactics. Once you have a message, you need to figure out how to start spreading the word. And that means practicing. You’ll need to make drafts of any flyers or brochures you want to hand out… You’ll need to train spokespeople who can speak on your issue… You’ll need to figure out how to pitch your issue to reporters in your area... Check out ‘A Look at Language Around HIV and Imprisonment’ in this section of the toolkit for some tips on integrating non-stigmatizing language at all levels of your organization’s work. And take a look at ‘How the Media Works – And How to Work the Media’ for some basics about media tactics. You can also contact CHAMP for help with this. We have lots of resources to help you go deeper into media work. 10. Launch Your Communications Strategy! This is the end result of all of your communications strategizing and planning – spreading the word! 11. Track, Evaluate & Celebrate Your Work. As you move forward in your communications work, keep track of how widely your message is circulating. You’ll also want to evaluate what worked and what could be improved on for each media strategy you use. You’ll be able to do all of this because you’ve already established goals for your organization’s communications strategy! If something didn’t work, think about what you could change and try again. And for each success, don’t forget to celebrate! Your communications work is something to be proud of. With each communications effort you launch, you’re moving all of us closer to realizing the Project UNSHACKLE vision. Now let’s go deeper into these steps…

Adapted from the SPIN Project www.spinproject.org

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Communicating about HIV and Imprisonment
Frames and Messages
In strategic communications, moving from who you’re targeting to what you’re going to say is one of the most difficult steps to take. So we thought we’d give you some ideas about how to talk about HIV and imprisonment in a way that is clear and concise. Framing and messaging are two complementary communication strategies that can be useful for talking about HIV and imprisonment or any other ideas we need to communicate across different groups. You can use this when doing outreach about your organization’s issues or in any media work that your organization takes on. We’re going to work through messaging and framing for Project UNSHACKLE in general, but we know that your process will be more specific based on the campaign your organization decides to take on. So we’ve also included ‘A Sample Strategic Communications Plan’ to give you some ideas on how to adapt framing and messaging to meet your needs. Framing. A frame for communications work is just like a frame for artwork. For both, frames are used to contain and focus the picture the audience is looking at. Artistic frames may be made out of wood or metal. For strategic communications work, we craft our frames out of words and images. Think of a picture of an eagle in a frame and the different meanings the eagle has for each of us who looks at it. All of those meanings are found within the frame of the picture, even though they aren’t spelled out in the picture itself or in words. Even the word eagle, for many of us in the United States, gives us a set of shared symbols and meanings. An eagle is a large bird that is considered strong and powerful. As a symbol of our country, it is often depicted with a powerful beak, in a solitary pose, and/or in a high position overlooking land and water. So how do we frame our work around HIV and imprisonment? To do that, we need to paint a picture of HIV and prisons that is different from what many people think of now, and that will help people join and support our efforts. For that reason, when people think about HIV and imprisonment, we don’t want the picture in their minds to be of ‘bad’ people who are at fault for contracting HIV because they didn’t wear condoms, had “gay sex,” or were drug addicts. And we don’t want people to imagine only the worst of violent crimes that people could commit. ⇒ We want them to think about the challenges we all face in creating the lives we want to lead. ⇒ We want them to think about how failed HIV and criminal justice policies have meant that people cannot get the support and services they need when they fall on hard times. ⇒ We want them to be able to talk about the harm caused in all of our lives when crime happens. ⇒ We want them to be able to imagine approaches to crime that actually help us heal that harm and restore justice in our communities. ⇒ We want them to understand why fighting for justice around imprisonment is absolutely critical if we are going to live in a world without HIV. And in communicating all of this, we want to inspire them to join us, rather than having them feel overwhelmed by our challenges.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Why is framing important? Because, through effective framing, we can create the social context that makes winning possible. We can do this on a personal level in our everyday conversations with friends and co-workers. These personal conversations may be about the UNSHACKLE vision, or we may just make a conscious effort to avoid using stigmatizing language. ⇒ For example, rather than using words like prisoner or inmate, we can talk about people in prison as just that: people in prison. With just this small shift in language, we’re able to emphasize people’s humanity rather than the crimes they were convicted of. We can also do this at a community-wide level through our work with the media. Media includes not just television and newspapers, but also materials we produce ourselves, like newsletters and websites. ⇒ For example, in all of the UNSHACKLE materials, we decided to use the word imprisoned, rather than incarcerated, to always remind ourselves that people are put in prison. This also forces us to see how entire communities are being imprisoned when their loved ones are put behind bars. We found that when we’re able to think about how and why people are being imprisoned, we give ourselves the space to question the ways our society deals with crime. And, in so doing, we can start to imagine different ways of holding people accountable that do not cause such deep and far-reaching harm. One of the best things about framing is that, even if people disagree with us and say that realizing the Project UNSHACKLE vision is more complicated and harder than we think, they’re still painting the picture that our vision is possible. That’s the power of framing. People have to respond to our picture, meaning that we are in control of the story. Project UNSHACKLE is a Frame! Let’s look at the Project UNSHACKLE logo and name… Project UNSHACKLE Logo. We communicate a lot with our logo. Our logo is an AIDS ribbon made out of chains that are breaking. With this logo, we show that we are actively breaking the chains of HIV and imprisonment. Uniting a Project UNSHACKLE Name. We also communicate a lot Network on with our name. We’re telling people that: Sentencing and ⇒ HIV and imprisonment are connected issues; HIV/ ⇒ We all need to be at the table if we’re going to make AIDS with any changes around HIV and imprisonment; Community ⇒ Our personal and professional knowledge – not the knowledge of politicians, law enforcement or Knowledge government officials – has to guide work around HIV Leading our and imprisonment; and Efforts ⇒ Rather than further imprisoning our communities, unshackling is necessary if we are to address both the persistence of crime and people’s vulnerability to HIV. The UNSHACKLE frame is important because it captures an entirely different way of thinking about HIV and imprisonment. By using the UNSHACKLE frame, we say that: ⇒ Even though health care and imprisonment are separated by different policy and funding streams, a united effort is needed to tackle these issues as they intersect in our lives; ⇒ Crime is not a problem of ‘bad guys’ and ‘good guys’ – it’s a problem for all of us in all of our communities; ⇒ We think it is possible to imagine different ways of addressing crime that won’t increase HIV vulnerability; and ⇒ The knowledge of how to do that already exists in our communities.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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OK, SO WHAT’S THE MESSAGE? Messaging. A message is what we actually say, print or show in our communications efforts around HIV and imprisonment. But remember, we still have to keep it concise. Think of it like a phone message. If someone leaves a very long message on your voicemail, do you remember it all? You may not even listen to the whole thing! Everyone in your organization should be able to say the message in their own words while still using the core language. This is the test of a good message. If people are having a hard time doing this, your message may be unclear or too complicated. Ask the people in your organization about where they get hung up in the message and set aside some time to revise your core language. Our message should fit within the UNSHACKLE frame, just as a painting fits within a frame. To do that: First, we have to identify our values. Second, we have to give the context. Third, we have to say what we want. The first step of messaging is identifying VALUES Effective frames start with values. Values are broad concepts that are widely felt by many people. Having shared values does not mean that we agree on how to implement these values. But when we introduce the UNSHACKLE vision to people through our shared values, we allow people to begin to identify with what we’re saying, and stick around to learn more. We are a part of Project UNSHACKLE because we value unity, community knowledge, justice and public health. ⇒ We value unity across the many communities that have been affected by the HIV and imprisonment crises. We also value unity within our communities, and work to heal the pain that crime causes all of us, rather than dividing people into ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys.’ ⇒ We value community knowledge – our personal and professional lived experiences around HIV and imprisonment – and believe that knowledge must lead our struggle for justice around HIV and imprisonment. ⇒ We value justice, not ‘criminal justice,’ but the justice that helps heal the pain and divisions in our communities and ensures that each of us has the opportunity to be part of shaping the world we want to live in. Justice is the way that we achieve personal and community health. ⇒ We value public health – the total physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual well being of our communities. We believe that public health policy must be guided by the social context in which health happens. Our Project UNSHACKLE name and logo represent these values. Project UNSHACKLE is a picture of change that says: We're from different communities, unified in our demand for justice around HIV and imprisonment. To further this frame, we must speak with a confident tone: We are united, knowledgeable and committed people, serious and dedicated to collaborating with each other for the well being of our communities. Together, we're confronting our current situation and what the future may hold. We are creative and interesting people who are very different from each other. But we are united in a common cause for justice around HIV and imprisonment.

Uniting a Network on Sentencing and HIV/ AIDS with Community Knowledge Leading our Efforts

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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The second step of messaging gives CONTEXT We further the UNSHACKLE frame by speaking about the challenges we face and the resources or lack of resources we have for meeting the challenges around HIV and imprisonment. But a key to framing is that we first speak of familiar values and we must not go on and on about the challenges or we lose all but our best friends! We need to give a brief, accurate, and inspiring snapshot of UNSHACKLE. That way, we keep people’s attention by framing a complicated story with a faster and general statement that summarizes all the details. UNSHACKLE is a new way to think about the connection between HIV and imprisonment. Here’s how we thought through the context for Project UNSHACKLE to develop the more concise statement below. In HIV work, too often we hear about being tested for HIV or wearing condoms as the only solution to protecting yourself from contracting the virus. But although we know that prevention efforts that target individual behaviors work, they don’t work for everybody all the time. Disease prevention is also about changing the conditions that allow infectious diseases to spread. And that means taking a serious look at how our country deals with imprisonment. For decades, we have heard about getting tough on crime. But this has not brought about any real decrease in crime or addiction in our communities. More people are locked up for longer sentences, and the services available to support people after their imprisonment are going away, too. All around, the lived picture in our communities has been devastating. When our community infrastructure is threatened, our communities are at increased risk for HIV. So ending this epidemic requires that our organizations and government help us change our approaches to crime and invest in rebuilding our communities. For many years, we have heard that we need to get tough on crime. But getting tough on crime has just meant getting tough after crimes happen, never getting tough on the root causes of crime. Crimes are still happening, and our communities are severely harmed in the process. And, as we’ve seen, when people can’t get the support they need, they are at greater risk for HIV. The third and final step of the message says WHAT WE WANT Many of us know a lot about HIV and imprisonment issues. But setting the frame first will give people who have less knowledge a picture of how to think about the details that we understand are important. Now that we’ve established that people impacted by HIV and imprisonment are smart, united, and confident in our ability to fight for justice around HIV and imprisonment, and that there’s a problem because we aren’t getting the support we need, we can bring it on home with a simple statement of what we need. Again, we need to remember that we can’t spout off a whole list of things or we’ll lose people. We can highlight the one or two issues that are most important where we live (lack of HIV prevention tools in prisons, long sentences, lack of housing when people come home, lack of access to drug treatment) or continue to use compelling but more general statements: Our communities have been severely harmed by our current approaches to crime, which means that our communities are at greater risk for HIV. And we want to combat that HIV risk today, tomorrow and for our futures together. That means changing the criminal justice laws and policies that put so many people from our communities in prison. But it also means redirecting current prison funds towards the support and services we need to rebuild our communities.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Messaging the Project UNSHACKLE Vision
Communicating Some of the Difficult Issues that Come Up
Now that we’ve gone over the basics about messaging and framing, we want to give you a few ideas on how to “message” HIV and imprisonment with the Project UNSHACKLE vision. Condoms in Prisons. Here is a sample message around the UNSHACKLE goal to ensure that people in prison have the tools they need to protect themselves against HIV: VALUES “We believe that good prison health is good public health…” CONTEXT “But in prisons throughout the country, people don’t have access to HIV prevention tools like condoms, which means they can’t protect themselves against HIV…” WHAT WE WANT “So we’re calling on prisons and jails across the country to make sure that, when our loved ones are imprisoned, they have access to the same tools that the rest of us use to protect our health and keep ourselves safe.” Sentencing Reform. Here is a sample message around the UNSHACKLE goals to reduce the number of people in prison and the barriers that people face after release: VALUES “We believe that recovering from addiction is a process that requires the support of community, not being locked up far away from community support…” CONTEXT “But in the last 30 years, new drug-sentencing laws have meant that people are serving longer and longer sentences in prison, often without access to drug treatment…” WHAT WE WANT “So we are calling not only for a reform to these harsh sentencing laws, but also for the immediate expansion of diversion-to-treatment programs for drug-related arrests. We’re also calling for drugtreatment-on-demand in our communities so that people don’t have to be arrested to get the support they need.” Rebuilding Our Communities. Here is a sample message around the UNSHACKLE goal to invest in rebuilding our communities: VALUES “We believe all of us make mistakes, and that part of building community with those around us is being able to work through and heal the harm that these mistakes cause…” CONTEXT “But our country’s current approach to crime makes that impossible. People are being condemned by the worst thing that they have done. And that doesn’t give any of us the chance to heal from the real harm that happens when crimes are committed…” WHAT WE WANT “So we’re calling for money that is currently being spent on prisons to be redirected into community support projects that will give all of us the chance to heal the relationships that are the building blocks of our communities, and give people currently in prison the opportunity to make new lives.” For other ideas on how to ‘message’ HIV and imprisonment, check out: The Opportunity Agenda at www.opportunityagenda.org. They publish a great communications toolkit on how to talk about community justice work using the frame of ‘opportunity.’

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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A Sample Strategic Communications Plan
An AIDS Service Organization Joins a Sentencing Reform Coalition
Now that we’ve gone over messaging and framing for the Project UNSHACKLE vision, we want to offer a specific example of how to do framing and messaging for a campaign your organization might take on. The Scenario. Imagine you work at an AIDS service organization. Many of the people who come through your organization have been to prison. So your case managers have been dealing with all the barriers people face after imprisonment for quite some time. Recently your organization began holding monthly educational forums around HIV and imprisonment, so that your clients are better informed about how to access the services they need. But many clients are often still unable to surmount the hurdles they face after getting out of prison. Several of your clients were recently rearrested on drug-related charges and will serve five to ten years in prison if convicted. Your staff had been working very closely with these clients to help them reunite with their families. And their families are worried about what another five to ten years will do to those delicate family bonds that were just starting to be repaired. Several of the children have already started getting mixed up in exactly the same things that put their parents at risk for HIV and led to their previous imprisonment. One of your staff members heard about a drug sentencing reform coalition that is doing work in your area. Getting the mandatory minimum drug sentences lifted would be a difficult fight, but it’s becoming increasingly clear to everyone in your organization that all your efforts supporting your clients to rebuild their lives after imprisonment will continue to be thwarted as long as these laws are on the books. Plus, this national coalition will provide lots of support. You just have to make sentencing reform the focus of the outreach and educational work you’re already doing within your organization and within the AIDS community in your area. Your Organization’s Previous Work and Capacity. Many of your staff members are wary of taking on such a big struggle because you’ve never done anything like this before. But as you talk more about it, you all realize that you actually have a lot of experience doing client and community-based education. You’re great at making easy to understand handouts on all sorts of complicated issues, like accessing benefits and housing. And you have tons of contacts at halfway houses, recovery programs and shelters in the area. You’ve even started doing lunchtime educational forums every few weeks at these places. And you have your annual ‘Justice Month’ events coming up in May. As one staff member said, ‘If this isn’t a justice issue, I don’t know what is!’ Plus, every month you have a staff in-service, which another staff member pointed out would give you the chance to practice your message with folks you know and to try to get more of your staff involved in the campaign. Your Goals, Targets and Audience. Next, you set up a meeting with one of the organizers from the sentencing reform coalition to talk about how you can get involved with the campaign. Having the support of the coalition helps ease your staff members’ minds a lot, because you don’t have to plan everything from scratch. The coalition’s goal is to change your state’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, and they’ve already been doing a lot of work to make that happen. They found some congress members to sponsor a sentencing reform bill, which will be coming up for a vote soon. So in the coming months, the coalition is targeting state congress members to make sure that the bill will have the support it needs to pass. They need all the help they can get with that! They need people to make in-person visits and phone calls. They need people to collect personal stories from people whose lives have been damaged by mandatory minimums. But most importantly, they need lobbying efforts from the broadest coalition base possible. That’s why they’re so excited that you want to promote sentencing reform within the AIDS community.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Your Frame and Message. You talk with the coalition about your ideas for having sentencing reform be the focus of your upcoming staff in-services, lunchtime educational forums in the community, and annual ‘Justice Month’ events. The coalition offers to send a member with you to each event, so that you have help answering questions about sentencing reform and the bill. But how to frame and message sentencing reform to the AIDS community? That’s up to you, because you know your audience best! The UNSHACKLE frame makes a lot of sense to the staff at your organization. After all, this is why your organization is getting involved in sentencing reform in the first place. You’ve seen the struggles your clients and their families go through, and you know that sentencing reform is necessary to promote the health and well being of people living with HIV and those affected by HIV. Your message is easy to come up with as well. You’re getting involved in sentencing reform because you value health, and you’ve seen that good community health depends just as much on good medical care as it does on the social context people live in. The context that drove your organization to get involved was seeing first hand how mandatory minimums jeopardize the health of your clients and their loved ones. You have lots of personal stories to draw from to explain this context to other in the AIDS community who aren’t as familiar with the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. In the short-term, you want people in the AIDS community to lend their support to the fight to get mandatory minimums lifted. And in the long-term, you want the AIDS community to stay involved, so that you can all keep fighting to get the post-imprisonment services your clients need put back in place. Practice, Practice, Practice. Now it’s time to practice your message. You draft a few flyers to accompany the coalition’s materials. Your staff members try out saying your message in their own words, adding stories of the clients they’ve been working with. And you do a dry run-through of everything at your next staff in-service, which goes really well! You learn that several of your staff have family members who are in prison, and two members have actually been imprisoned themselves. They’re all really excited to see the organization taking action around sentencing reform, and offer to lend their hands to the upcoming lunchtime presentations at organizations in your area and to planning for the ‘Justice Month’ events. They also have a few additional contacts you hadn’t thought of. Spreading the Word. This is the part that you’ve been preparing for! You make sure that flyers are posted in every office of your organization and in public places. During your next round of lunchtime educational forums, the focus is sentencing reform. You get all the people who attend the forums to write letters to their congress members, and you make sure to pass around a sign-in sheet so that you can call on them again to make phone calls or do lobbying visits. With all of this outreach, your ‘Justice Month’ events are the best attended ever. And at the concluding event, you ask each organization to pledge to become involved in sentencing reform and to assign at least one staff member to work with the coalition until the bill passes. Keeping Up the Fight. Now that your staff members have seen what outreach works and doesn’t work, and how much time is required to pull everything off, they’re starting to think about new ways to expand your sentencing reform work. So you decide to hold a meeting to evaluate the work you’ve already done and to map out a plan for further work. You invite staff from the organizations that pledged to work on sentencing reform, so you can get their ideas and keep them involved. You also invite the sentencing reform coalition members to your meeting to ensure that your additional efforts will help to give the final push needed to get the sentencing reform bill passed. You all agree to focus on getting 100 people from the AIDS community to attend the rally that will be held the day before the bill comes up for a vote. Now it’s time to get to work on outreach and to come up with some slogans, so that your message is prominent at the rally…
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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A Look at Language Around HIV and Imprisonment
Using Non-Stigmatizing Language in All That We Do
With Project UNSHACKLE, we are concerned with language, because we know that we communicate a lot about our vision around HIV and imprisonment simply by the words we use. Dehumanizing or distancing language can serve to reinforce existing attitudes about HIV and prisons. But language that affirms people’s dignity and worth can do a lot to reframe the way that HIV and prisons are talked about, even without our having to give the full Project UNSHACKLE vision. As we talk about HIV and imprisonment, one of the trickiest things is to remain aware of the highly stigmatizing language we’re used to hearing so that we can speak against it in everything that we do. Here are some examples of the different terms you may hear when people talk about the communities most impacted by HIV and prisons… AIDS Victims AIDS Patients People Living with HIV Inmates Ex-offenders Former Prisoners People who are Formerly Imprisoned Which of these terms are dehumanizing? Which ones are distancing? Which ones speak to people’s dignity? Dehumanizing Language. When we talk about dehumanizing language, we mean words and phrases that completely strip people of their personhood. This is the language of hatred and contempt. In recent immigration debates, for example, there has been a shift from calling people ‘illegal immigrants’ to calling them ‘illegals.’ While a lot is already missing in the term ‘illegal immigrants’ (like why a person would come to the U.S. illegally), the new term, ‘illegals,’ goes beyond simply marking people by their immigration status to naming their entire being as illegal. In prisons and halfway houses, you may also hear people referred to as ‘females’ and ‘males.’ Distancing Language. When we talk about distancing language, we mean words and phrases that put people at a distance from us, often naming them as people to be helped rather than as equals to work alongside us. This is the language of pity. In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, there was a lot of dehumanizing language propelled by the government and conservative religious groups – calling AIDS the ‘gay plague,’ etc. Other terms that weren’t as hateful, but still very distancing, were also in circulation. Two of the most common were (and are) ‘AIDS victims’ and ‘people dying from AIDS.’ Both of these terms say that people are helpless in the face of the disease. So in the early years of AIDS activism, one of the first demands made by communities most affected by AIDS was to use the term ‘people LIVING with HIV.’ Language that Speaks to People’s Dignity. When we talk about language that speaks to people’s dignity, we mean words and phrases that embrace the fullness of people’s lives and experiences. This is the language of love and community. ‘People living with HIV’ and ‘people who are formerly imprisoned’ are two terms that were advanced by the communities most affected – first to speak to their personhood, and second to speak to their experiences of living with HIV or going to prison. But dignifying language can sometimes be tricky to sort out, because people may reclaim distancing language to use it in empowering ways. For example, many people who have been imprisoned call themselves ex-offenders to mark that period in their lives as finished. So when in doubt, listen to the way that people talk about themselves and their personal experiences around HIV and prisons. And if you have a question, ask! Asking shows that you care about the person you’re talking with and can help deepen the relationship. NEXT STEP! Look through your organization’s materials. How do you talk about HIV and prisons? How do you talk about people with HIV and people who have been imprisoned? What are your organization’s values around HIV, imprisonment and the communities most affected? What language would best reflect those values?
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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How the Media Works – And How to Work the Media
The Basics of Doing Media Work
In order to make practical and effective media plans, we have to think of the media as something that we can work for and with, not something that should work for us. Everyone has an issue, a cause, a story – being honest, accurate and true won’t get us in the news. Being strategic and having a plan increases our chances. To maximize media success, you need to: ⇒ Understand the basic elements needed to get solid media coverage for your campaign; ⇒ Understand what is “newsworthy” and how to frame your message to the media; ⇒ Develop a good press list for your area, develop relationships with reporters, and become a reliable source; ⇒ Effectively pitch your story and prepare spokespeople to speak to the media; ⇒ Know how to write and use press releases; and ⇒ Widen the range of opportunities to get into the press through letters to the editor, op-eds and other methods. In this section of the toolkit, we are going to focus on how the media works, how to frame your stories, and how to handle bad press coverage. Check out the CHAMP Academy website for a longer version of this chapter with more practical tips about developing press lists, training spokespeople, writing press releases, and getting letters to the editor published. There are also a lot of good guides available for making media plans and increasing our media skills. A few of our favorites are listed at the end of this section. We encourage you to seek out more information, and most importantly, to invest time in strategic planning and practicing these skills! The Scenario. You’ve got it all mapped out... Your organization is part of a coalition campaign to lift state laws on mandatory minimum sentencing, and different coalition partners are planning events for the close of the legislative session. You realize that World AIDS Day is on a Sunday and decide to have an interfaith rally that afternoon to talk about the impact of mass imprisonment on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The rally is spirited, looks strong, and has an impressive range of speakers who are leaders from different faith traditions as well as people living with HIV who have been in prison. The speakers were all “on message,” focused on the need to keep communities healthy by redirecting the costs of long prison sentences into community drug treatment programs, and the auditorium was packed. There’s just one problem. There’s no press there. What went wrong? Or what if the press did come… but all that appears the next day is a 30-second segment on the morning news that includes a ten-second quote from you – a quote about a side issue of the legislative process for the bill that you said as background information to the reporter, not your core message – and you aren’t the formerly imprisoned leader who was chosen as your organizational spokesperson. It’s important to recognize that good did come out of the event. It increased communication and support between the faith leaders and the AIDS community, and people in your group who had been imprisoned really found their voices as powerful speakers. Your group got 40 new names for your mailing list. And in the last example, your quote was not harmful, even if it was not as inspiring as you may have liked. But you didn’t achieve your strategic communications goals, which were to have at least one story on the TV news and one in the newspaper. It’s even more surprising because your group has built a strong relationship with the reporter at the local paper who covers community health issues. He said he’d pass on the word about the event but then no one showed up.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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HOW DOES THE MEDIA WORK, ANYWAY? We may have our own ideas of how the media should work, what it should cover and emphasize, and how it should highlight our campaigns and community voices. And there are very important media reform efforts seeking to combat the consolidation of corporate ownership of the media, which is further limiting the stories and perspectives we hear about on the airwaves, on the Internet and in print. But that doesn’t mean we can order up custom coverage for our campaigns. Following the Media. The first step to understanding how the media works is to follow the media. Pay attention to local media, as well as national coverage of issues that are related to your work. Here are some questions to keep in mind: How much actual local news is included in a local evening newscast? How are stories presented? What are the components of a news article in your local paper? Who is quoted, and how much information is included? If you were describing the news media to an alien who just landed on our planet, how would you describe what’s included and how stories are portrayed? How would you advise them on how to craft a story that fits within the standards of the media? If we can make our stories as clear and easy to cover as possible, we are more likely to get the coverage we need. To do so, we have to acknowledge that the press is not going to spend as much time on our issues as we would like. The bad economy, corporate profit margins and “downsizing” have affected many of the jobs and people in our communities. The media is no different. Even though there are many more “new media” sources like the Internet, far fewer investigative reporters have time to research stories thoroughly. Reporters who used to be dedicated to HIV/AIDS now often must now also cover global health, bioterrorism, and/or the health care industry. Following Reporters. There’s one secret that's important to know when you’re making media plans: the media is run by humans. Humans will determine if and how our campaigns get covered. And if we understand how their work is done, we can make our plans fit into their systems, flawed as they may be. One way to learn how to think like a reporter is to ask them what their jobs are like. CHAMP has worked with local community groups to organize a panel of media professionals to discuss their work, how they decide what stories to cover, what they’re looking for in community spokespeople and sources, and how they’ve developed their perspectives on particular issues. You can also talk one-on-one with press people – if you can find a moment when they have time to talk – about how best to work within the structures and constraints of their work. It can also be a good way for them to remember that we – and the people who are part of our campaigns – are also human. AND WHAT IS NEWS, ANYHOW? If it seems like a lot of what’s in the press is based on the same few formulas, it’s because it is. To get press coverage, your story must be what the press (not just us) considers newsworthy. Finding a Hook. News hooks literally “hook” the attention of a press person. This list of hooks (or formulas) can help you score press by giving them something to grab onto that fits the template of media stories: ⇒ Something in the News: It may sound basic, but the press considers something newsworthy that is in other news outlets. For example, if a well-respected newspaper like the New York Times writes a story about HIV/AIDS in prisons, other news outlets are going to consider the issue more newsworthy and may be looking for a way to write about it that’s related but different, or that includes local perspectives.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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⇒ Controversy sells stories. If we tell a story as if everyone agrees, it doesn’t seem like news. Our communication strategies should include how we tell the story of the conflict that fits our framing and puts the opposition on the defense. ⇒ Dramatic Human Interest: Include the stories of real people, their victories, tragedies, and adventures. Remember, the stories must fully support the frame and messages of your campaign to be effective as an act of strategic communications. ⇒ Trends: Stories that suggest new opinions, behavior patterns and attitudes. Can you find at least three examples to claim that a new trend is emerging in HIV/AIDS? For example, the criminalization of HIV transmission was a big issue at the 2008 International AIDS Conference. Then the International AIDS Society put out a statement about it. If your coalition puts out a state-level report on the harmful impact of criminalization of transmission, you’re part of a trend. ⇒ Timelines/Calendar. Capture something coming up on the calendar. On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS releases reports on the global epidemic, and politicians make speeches. Local press may be looking for ways to connect these things to local people and efforts. September is “back to school” month – a time where it may be good to contrast how much money is spent on imprisoning young people rather than educating them. ⇒ New Announcement, or a Fresh Angle on an Old Story. “Unprecedented” or “groundbreaking” or “first-ever” information… Reporters are only interested in new news, not old news. Make your news fresh, even if you’ve known about something for a while... or take an old story and put a fresh twist on it. What’s the most surprising part of what you’re working on? Maybe you have new data about your clients that shows the impact of imprisonment on their lives. Or you’re working with a local university to do a cost analysis showing the money that could be saved if everyone had access to drug treatment on demand and diversion courts. Put out a report and refresh your story. ⇒ Localize a National Story (and vice versa). When Congress started looking at eliminating the disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine, it gave the press a new opportunity to look at how the states were handling these sentencing issues. If you hear of a national story that has a local “angle,” it’s a great time to contact the press about it. ⇒ Anniversaries/Milestones. One year later… One decade later… Use time markers to show success and progress. ⇒ Profiles and Personnel may feature individuals, community leaders, or galvanizing spokespeople that may become news themselves because of their fascinating personal stories. ⇒ Celebrity. If you have a nationally known celebrity on your side, make sure they’re included in the story. ⇒ Strange Bedfellows. Do you have unlikely allies coming together in solidarity around your issue? Highlight them in your story. Working the News Cycle. Once you’ve determined that your story is “newsworthy” in the eyes of the press, we need to consider the news cycle. The news media runs in cycles. For example, one cycle is that of the daily local newscast. The show itself runs from 5 – 5:30 each day, but there’s a whole sequence of things that also happen, from an 8 am “assignment meeting” when producers decide what events they’ll cover that day, to last minute editing in the late afternoon, that has to happen before the newscast. Different kinds of media have different cycles. A newspaper that comes out once a week is on a different cycle than a daily paper. And an all-news-all-the-time radio station is going to operate differently than a station that only has a morning news program. Our World AIDS Day case study may have run into problems due to the news cycle – different staff work in newsrooms on weekends than during the week. So if we’re used to talking to the weekday people – and even if our friendly newspaper reporter put in a word for us – the weekend staff or the faith reporter who covers events on Sundays may not have even heard about the event.
Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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To increase our chances of getting the coverage we want, we have to work within these cycles. We can even choose to schedule our events according to how they fit in the cycle: Mondays are busy news days, and it’s more of an uphill battle to attract press attention. It can also be hard to get press to events on Fridays – and fewer people watch the news on Friday evenings anyway. So Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are often the best days for holding press events. Time-wise, early in the day can be better, from 10 am to 2 pm. This allows reporters plenty of time to write up a story, find some background, and meet their deadline without missing early morning planning meetings or the “drive time” radio news broadcast. But a compelling midweek event happening at rush hour that attracts ten times as many people may draw live TV. It may also garner a story in the next day’s paper if the reporter can do their prep work ahead of time and send a photographer. Do a reality check by noticing how those sorts of stories are – or aren’t – covered in your local press. Being Aware of Current Affairs. In all cases, it’s best to be aware of current affairs. If there’s an election, a celebrity event, or a contentious trial, for example, your chances of getting coverage are slim, unless you can tie your event into what’s going on. Sometimes, “current affairs” includes news that can link to your campaign. Don’t hesitate to jump into the cycle when you have something “newsworthy” and can explain what sets your story apart, or how it fits in with what’s in the news right now, even if you don’t have an event or new information. For example, in early August 2008, the press started to report that the CDC would announce that the rate of new HIV cases in the U.S. is higher than previously thought. Several AIDS groups around the country jumped on this news to talk about policy changes that they believe would lower the HIV incidence rate where they live. It was a great opportunity to explain the relationship between imprisonment and HIV to ensure that reporters didn’t reinforce stereotypes or myths about HIV transmission behind bars, if they chose to cover that issue in their stories. Becoming a Press Resource. Being sensitive to the news cycle is one way to be a good resource for the press. It’s important to remember that reporters need us as much as we need them. Lots of people in your effort can and should build relationships with reporters, not just spokespeople! There are different reasons for contacting a reporter. Some people may never be on TV or get interviewed for the paper, but they may be excellent at pitching stories or op-eds. Or they may be a good person for explaining the technical aspects of your campaign that a reporter needs to understand as background to write or report the story. Reporters rely on sources to figure out what to write about, and how to cover the story. As you work with the press over time, you could become a trusted source by: ⇒ Being Accessible. Give out your cell number, check your messages, and return calls promptly. ⇒ Providing Interesting, Factual, Well-Crafted Ideas for Stories that you can envision in the format of the media you are targeting. ⇒ Having the Names and Reliable Contact Information for Spokespeople for Your Group, as well as other people the reporter might want to talk to, even people who will provide the “other side” of the story. Never call demanding that you be the one who’s quoted, or expecting to write your own quote. ⇒ Not Wasting Reporters’ Time by Being a ‘Schmooze Hog.’ Only contact reporters when you have news, or once a year for a friendly lunch or cup of coffee if you have a good relationship with them. It’s important to stick with the facts, told in a way that supports your frame and messages -- “spin” your news to fit your framing. But be careful not to exaggerate or lie. Do your homework first to be sure you have something worthwhile to offer.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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WHEN THE PRESS COMES KNOCKING… If you are a trusted source or your organization is known for working on a particular issue, you may get calls from the press without having to contact them first. You may even get a call to give your perspective on breaking news that you haven’t heard about yet! Responding when the Press Calls You. It’s important to keep your cool and figure out what to do before you jump in with answers. If a member of the press calls for background information or a quote, you can say that you’re in the middle of something (as you probably are!) and ask if they’re on a tight deadline. If not, you can set up a time to talk later in the day, or even later in the week if they’re just collecting information for a future story. If they are, you can still ask to call them back in five or ten minutes. During that time, you can research the media outlet and reporter, if you aren’t familiar with them. You can collect information on the topic they’re asking about. And you can even practice what you want to say or remind yourself of what you don’t want to say. Write some notes for yourself! When the reporter first calls, or when you call back, you can ask some questions before doing an interview. They often have the framework of a story, or at least a core idea in mind, and it’s good for you to know what it is. If you suspect that they’ll use stereotypes or biased language to describe people who are imprisoned or the relationship between imprisonment and HIV, it can be good to try to shift their language or perspective without confronting them harshly. Try saying things like: “Some people who have covered these stories have overlooked the main point, which is that good prison health is good public health” -or“Other reporters who are less informed on these issues than you are have used stereotypes that depict men who are imprisoned as predators coming back to the community to infect others. I’m glad you‘ll write about this in a more accurate and sensitive manner” to guide the reporter away from common stereotypes about HIV and imprisonment, and towards the message your group wants to convey. Deciding Which Press Calls to Take. But what if your research shows that the reporter who wants a live interview tomorrow morning is a right-wing talk radio host who decimates guests and invites callers to heckle them? You don’t have to do all interviews. If they’ve contacted you about something that’s related to your work but not squarely about your campaign, you can politely reply that the topic is not something you’re working on. If they’re asking you to come on specifically about your campaign, you can also decline to appear. You don’t have to give a reason. It is acceptable to say that you are not going to be able to appear on his or her show. Even if they badger you about it, you do not have to do it if you don’t feel it’s in the best interest of your campaign. However, there are people who have managed to “hold their own” in the face of hostile media. If you feel it would be good for your campaign to face hostile press (or inevitable that you will have to), it’s important to take the time to prepare for it. You can appoint one person to specialize on this type of media, and practice as a team to be as prepared as possible. Monitor the media to see how others pull it off, and contact CHAMP or other media support groups to help develop your skills and strategies.

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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WHEN BAD COVERAGE HAPPENS… It can be frustrating to find ourselves up against a system that encourages stereotypes, that marginalizes the voices of people of color, and that often seems more concerned about the dramas in the lives of celebrities than the real-life stories and struggles of millions of everyday people. And even the best reporters can cover our stories in ways we don’t like. Challenging How the Story Is Told. What should we do when stories aren’t covered well? Many groups have found that it creates an opportunity for additional strategies that can build your campaign. For example, if you feel the problem is that the reporter is uninformed or under-informed, you can write or call to provide additional information or to gently correct misinformation. If the press is repeatedly covering the story inaccurately and hasn’t responded to your requests, you can write letters to the editor, or use the coverage to spur discussion in your campaign meetings. You can also request an “editorial board meeting” to talk about how the media outlet is covering your issues over time. It’s also possible to approach other media outlets to encourage them to cover the story in a way that’s more accurate or less reliant on stereotypes. However, it’s best to not do so by talking dirt about other reporters to their colleagues since you don’t want them to think you’re an unreliable source who could be trash talking them the next time they write about you. KEEP BUILDING YOUR MEDIA SKILLS! Remember, you can always call CHAMP to ask for feedback or input on our media strategies. We can help you practice your “sound bites” (short quotes that capture your message), help edit press releases, consider options for media events, or even brainstorm next steps when media strategies don’t work as well as you’d hoped.

Further Reading
Take a minute to check out the CHAMP Academy website for a longer version of this media skills-building piece: CHAMP www.champnetwork.org/academy The online version of our HIV and imprisonment media skills-building piece includes even more tips for media work, including developing press lists, training spokespeople, writing press releases, and getting letters to the editor published. There are also a lot of good guides available for making media plans and increasing our media skills. Here are a few of our favorites: Spin Project www.spinproject.org The Ruckus Society Media Training Manual www.ruckus.org/resources/manuals/media/index.html Turn on the News – ActionMedia www.turnonthenews.com We Interrupt this Message www.interrupt.org We Interrupt this Message also published a special report on media work around juvenile justice policy and California’s Proposition 21. Check it out at: www.interrupt.org/pdfs/Sndbts&Cellblks.pdf

Project UNSHACKLE – Confronting HIV and Mass Imprisonment: An Organizing Toolkit, by Laura McTighe December 2009 Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)

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Strategic Communications in Action
Case Study: ACT UP Philadelphia Fights for Condoms in Prison
Now that we have gone through some of the basics about framing, messaging and media work, we want to give you an example of strategic communications in action. Background on the Campaign. In 2006, ACT UP Philadelphia mounted a campaign to ensure that people imprisoned in the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) had access to condoms. About two decades earlier, the PPS had issued a memorandum allowing condoms to be distributed as an HIV prevention strategy. While the PPS had been commended for its forward-thinking position on condoms in prison, ACT UP Philadelphia discovered that most people imprisoned in the PPS had no or limited access to condoms. In many cases, people weren’t even aware that condoms were available. Moreover, ACT UP Philadelphia found out that many PPS correctional officers treated condoms as contraband, meaning that if condoms were found in a person’s cell, they would be confiscated and the person could be subject to disciplinary action, including solitary confinement. Resources and Challenges. In taking on the condoms in prison campaign, the members of ACT UP Philadelphia had several resources on their side. There was the 1988 prison-issued memorandum giving notice to nursing staff that condoms would be distributed as part of in-house HIV prevention efforts. The prison commissioner was also sympathetic to health care issues, and in the past had taken action to ensure that the health care needs of people imprisoned in the PPS were met. The challenge was to figure out how to actually get condoms into the hands of people imprisoned in the PPS, rather than allowing this life-saving health strategy to be stuck in debate around the ethics or legality of sex in prison. And that meant coming up with solid framing and messaging around condoms in prison, as well as using the media to apply pressure whenever it seemed like fears about sex in prison were going to trump the importance of HIV prevention efforts. Framing and Messaging. For the campaign, ACT UP Philadelphia adopted the slogan, “Good Prison Health is G ood Public Health!” With this slogan, ACT UP Philadelphia framed condoms in prison as a critical component of good public health, rather than allowing the debate to be polarized around questions of sex in prison. ⇒ ACT UP Philadelphia emphasized that “people in prison are members of our communities,” breaking with the usual ways that lines are drawn between people in prison and people in free society. The point was simple – regardless of why people are imprisoned, they are people first. And that means that people in prison should have access to the same HIV prevention methods as those on the outside do. ⇒ This community-centered message gave ACT UP Philadelphia the tools for combating some of the more stigmatizing talk around sex in prison, namely that ‘people are getting infected with HIV in prison and coming home to infect their loved ones.’ The ACT UP Philadelphia message was consistently inclusive and humanizing. "We don't see illicit sex. We see people who are lonely reaching out for companionship. And they need to have the tools to protect themselves.”

ACT UP Philadelphia organizer, Waheedah Shabazz-El

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Crafting a Policy. In preparation for a preliminary meeting with PPS Commissioner Leon King on July 31, 2006, ACT UP Philadelphia members did research into HIV and imprisonment, checking CDC figures and research studies focused on HIV and imprisonment. They also practiced their messaging, so that all group members could explain the message of the campaign in their own words. The meeting seemed like it was a tremendous success. Commissioner King had agreed to enforce a comprehensive condom distribution program in the PPS, to train correctional officers on the policy, to update the ‘Inmate Handbook,’ and to post flyers about the program in English and Spanish. But by their follow-up meeting on August 28, 2006, no progress had been made towards implementing the condom distribution program. Working the Media. In preparation for their next meeting on October 19, 2006, ACT UP Philadelphia set to work on keeping the issue in the media as a way to apply pressure on the PPS. ⇒ ACT UP drafted two press releases: 1. One Positive. “Philadelphia Prison System Comes Up to Code on Inmate Health: ACT UP Applauds Commissioner King for Improving Condom Distribution Program ” 2. One Negative: “AIDS Activists Denounce Philadelphia Prison Commissioner’s Continued Failure to Stop HIV Spread in County Jails.” ⇒ ACT UP prepared to call a press conference informing the public about their negotiations and advocacy on behalf of community health. ⇒ ACT UP members were interviewed by local Metro daily paper and The Philadelphia Gay News, and “Condoms in Jails” was featured as the “Question of the Day” in the public opinion section of the Metro. ⇒ ACT UP members mobilized activists and allies from across the country to participate in and ultimately dominate an online survey poll conducted by NBC TV: “Should inmates receive condoms while in jail?” Of the 1,363 respondents, 93% voted YES, and 7% voted NO. On October 19, 2006, ACT UP Philadelphia members met with the PPS again, and Commissioner King agreed to sign the updated condoms in prison policy. The policy would then be sent to the PPS board for review and approval. Following this meeting, ACT UP Philadelphia released the positive press release to KYW News. The next two to three months were a period of processing the revised policy in consultation with Commissioner King and the PPS board. There were several interviews with local papers. ACT UP Philadelphia members also replied to blogs that ridiculed their intentions. Most reporters and community members were eager to learn the outcome of the PPS decision on this major health issue. That helped to keep the campaign in the media and pressure on the PPS. Campaign Victory! After several months of anticipation, skepticism, and controversy, the revised HIV Prevention Policy was officially signed by Commissioner Leon King on January 31, 2007. Waheedah Shabazz-El, a leader in the ACT UP Philadelphia condoms in prison campaign, recalled a conversation with Commissioner King during which she asked him why he was willing to make such a controversial decision. He replied, “Ms. Shabazz, because it was the right thing to do.” The condoms in prison policy signing was announced by ACT UP Philadelphia in a press conference on February 9, 2007. The press conference was timed to coincide with African American HIV Awareness Day to draw attention to the disproportionate toll that HIV and imprisonment continue to take on communities of color in the U.S.

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Next Steps. If your organization is interested in working to make condoms available in prisons in your area, you can also learn more about the specifics of the ACT UP Philadelphia campaign in a report Waheedah Shabazz-El wrote for Project UNSHACKLE. It’s available online at www.champnetwork.org/unshackle.

Check Out the ACT UP Philadelphia Media Coverage!
Here are just a few of the print and television media stories that helped ACT UP Philadelphia achieve victory for its condoms in prison campaign: 10/25/06—Local Activist Group Announces Changes to Prison Policy [KYW Newsradio] 10/25/06—Activist: City prisons need to update condom policy [Metro Philadelphia] 10/25/06—Press Release from ACT UP Philadelphia: "Philadelphia Prison Commissioner Approves Condoms for HIV Prevention after AIDS Activists Challenge Broken Policy" [Irish Penal Reform Trust] 10/27/06—Condoms Not Contraband [Housing Works AIDS Issues Update] 11/03/06—City considering greater condom access in prisons [Philadelphia Inquirer] 11/04/06—Philadelphia Pennsylvania Considering Selling Condoms in All Male Prison [Bad Cop News] 12/11/06—Vote Now: Free Condoms for Prisoners? [NBC10.com] 12/12/06—City Giving Free Condoms to Male Prisoners [NBC10.com] 12/20/06—Rubbers Stomped [Philadelphia City Paper] 02/09/07—Celebrating Black (Gay) History Month [Philadelphia Gay News] 06/02/08—AIDS Education Month begins by saluting effort to solve prison condom problem [Philadelphia Daily News] 06/02/08—Pa. Groups Work to Solve Prison Condom Problem [plusmag.com Daily News] If you’re viewing this section of the toolkit online, you can click on each story title to link to the actual news article.

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Campaign Tools

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Introduction
Now that we’ve gone through some background information on HIV and imprisonment, we want to give you a few ideas about how to use the goals and values of the Project UNSHACKLE vision to identify a concrete campaign that your organization can take on. First, let’s look back at where we’ve been so far…

Uniting a Network on Sentencing and HIV/ AIDS with Community Knowledge Leading our Efforts
Project UNSHACKLE Goals. In the Political Education section of the toolkit, we talked about the Project UNSHACKLE vision for having safe and vibrant communities today, tomorrow and in the future and our goals to: ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ Ensure that People Have Tools to Protect Themselves Against HIV; Reduce the Number of People in Prison; Eliminate the Barriers People Face when Coming Home from Prison; and Rebuild Our Communities.

Project UNSHACKLE Values. In the Strategic Communications section of the toolkit, we went deeper into the UNSHACKLE vision, looking at how to communicate the vision by talking about how our work together is grounded in our shared values of: ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ ⇒ Unity, Community Knowledge, Justice, and Public Health.

To develop campaigns at the intersection of HIV and imprisonment, we have to figure out how the Project UNSHACKLE vision applies to the needs of our particular communities... Project UNSHACKLE Campaigns. Realizing the UNSHACKLE vision requires that we combat imprisonment and HIV vulnerability at every level that the criminal justice system is hurting our communities. People need the immediate one-on-one support they need to get through the trauma of imprisonment and to negotiate the barriers they will face after they are released. But there is a tremendous lack of programs designed to meet the needs people have here and now. And most of the laws and policies that have created the imprisonment and HIV crises still remain on the books. That means that individual advocacy, structural interventions and policy reform are all critical and interdependent ways to meet the Project UNSHACKLE goals. The challenge is to make sure that our work helps us build the unity, knowledge, justice and health of our communities so that every step we take, no matter how small, reinforces that our UNSHACKLE vision is achievable here and now.

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⇒ Individual Advocacy. For people who are currently or formerly imprisoned, the personal is

political. They’re struggling against all the policies enacted over the last decades that increase the length of their imprisonment and restrict their access to services, benefits and jobs once they’re released. Individual advocacy that addresses the immediacy of these personal crises is a critical step in building movements for social change that are not only inclusive of but also led by people who are currently and formerly imprisoned. By assisting people with access to housing, emotional support, drug and alcohol treatment, and medical services, we challenge the cycles of poverty, lack of access to medical care, and relapse that can all but ensure ill health and/or re-imprisonment. And by getting and keeping our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers, home, we have the chance to heal the relationships that are the building blocks of our communities. ⇒ Structural Interventions. But the imprisonment issues facing our communities can’t only be tackled one-by-one. As we discussed in the Political Education and Strategic Communications sections of this toolkit, current imprisonment laws and policies are rooted in stigmatizing attitudes about crime and drug use that have been around since the first prisons were built. They’ve created a context in the United States where continued injustices in the prison system contribute to and fuel vulnerability to HIV infection. Improving the health and well being of our communities requires that we change this context. There’s an urgent need for programs that are on the side of people who are currently or formerly imprisoned, and aren’t perceived to be part of the punitive system they’re still in or have just left. Whether through condom distribution in prisons, educational programs, or community organizing, every community-building and health promotion effort we establish helps us uproot the current context of imprisonment and lay the groundwork for a new context of unity, knowledge, justice and health in our communities. In so doing, each of these structural interventions brings us one step closer to making our UNSHACKLE vision a lived reality. ⇒ Policy Reform. As we try to establish structural interventions that promote the health and well being of our communities, we’re likely to encounter numerous policies that make it difficult for structural interventions alone to reverse all the damage the prison system has done and continues to do to our communities. In the Political Education section of this toolkit, we talked about the harsh sentencing laws ushered in by the ‘war on drugs’ and the policies enacted to limit people’s access to services after release. These drug laws and reentry polices only serve to further intensify the fraying of the social safety net in the U.S., which has already left many Americans without access to drug treatment, health care and housing even if they don’t have drug convictions. Realizing the UNSHACKLE vision means that we must also incorporate work to reform the imprisonment laws and policies that brutally damage our communities in the first place. Whether we join a sentencing reform coalition to lift mandatory minimum sentences or a coalition working to remove the ‘have you ever been convicted of a felony?’ question from job applications, these campaigns to reform unjust policies are critical for the success of any community-building or health-promotion efforts. And by reforming these policies, we’ll ensure a lasting reduction in the number of people in prison and a permanent elimination of the barriers people face after release.

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Picking Your Campaign. There are many fronts we need to be working on – this is why Project UNSHACKLE was started! None of us can work on all of these issues on our own. But if each UNSHACKLE coalition member takes on one piece, our work together, across many cities and states, will span individual advocacy, structural interventions and policy reform. The key is for your group or organization to figure out the most pressing HIV/imprisonment issue in your area, and to address that issue as your piece in working to realize the UNSHACKLE vision. The following pages of this section include several Campaign Tools that you can use to build strong campaigns for addressing the intersection of HIV and imprisonment in your local area: 1. A Checklist for Choosing an Issue 2. The Importance of Base-Building in Our Campaign Work

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A Checklist for Choosing an Issue
How to Decide What Campaign is Right for Your Organization
‘A Sample Strategic Communications Plan’ in the Strategic Communications section of this toolkit provided a scenario for an AIDS service organization that joined a sentencing reform coalition. When the staff of the organization decided to take on sentencing reform as an issue, they did so because drug-sentencing laws were jeopardizing the support and advocacy work they did with their clients. The importance of sentencing reform was deeply and widely felt. When developing a concrete campaign on this issue, the organization found out that there was already a sentencing reform coalition working in their area. So rather than duplicating efforts or taking on a campaign that would stretch their organizational capacity, the staff decided to join forces with the sentencing reform coalition, and work on getting their contacts to be part of the coalition. Choosing Your Issue. This example speaks to the challenges of choosing an issue and then mapping out a campaign that’s right for you. When we look at all the harm that’s being done in our communities because of imprisonment policies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We may be confronted with the urgency of social change because of the pain our clients and loved ones are going through... We may think that incremental efforts aren’t going to make enough of an impact… We may think that we need to take on all of the problems we see if we’re going to make a real difference... But if we’re going to start laying the groundwork to make the UNSHACKLE vision a lived reality, we have to jump in. The challenge is to pick issues and map out campaigns that will not only help us win the pressing changes we need today, but will also set us up for the long-term systemic changes that are necessary to address the imprisonment and HIV crises. And we have to be realistic about our organizations’ capacity. If you’re a new, small or resource-limited group, it make sense to pick an issue that won’t force you to “go it alone,” like the organization in ‘A Sample Strategic Communications Plan’ did. CHAMP’s Issue Checklist. To help you choose an issue that’s right for your organization, here’s an issue checklist we use at CHAMP. A good issue should: 1. Result in a real and worthwhile improvement in people’s lives. 2. Give people a sense of their own power. 3. Alter the relations of power. 4. Be winnable. 5. Be widely felt. 6. Be deeply felt. 7. Be easy to understand. 8. Have a clear target. 9. Have a clear timeframe that works for you. 10. Be non-divisive. 11. Build leadership. 12. Set your organization up for the next campaign. 13. Raise money. 14. Be consistent with your values and vision. 15. Need your group to win the issue. 16. Not require your group to become a permanent service provider. Let’s go through each item on this checklist in more detail…
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The CHAMP Checklist for Choosing an Issue: A Good Issue Should…

1. Result in a real and worthwhile improvement in people’s lives. If you can see and feel the improvement, then you can be sure your campaign has actually been successful. The group must agree together on what an improvement means and whose lives will be affected. Group members should feel that they’re fighting for something they feel good about and that’s worth the effort. People will want to become members of your group to work on the issue. 2. Give people a sense of their own power. Group members should come away from the campaign feeling that the victory was won by them. This builds group cohesion, loyalty and the confidence to take on bigger issues. 3. Alter the relations of power. Your group becomes more powerful and the policy-makers become less powerful. Building a strong, sustainable organization creates a new center of power that can affect how important decisions are made. 4. Be winnable. The issue mustn’t be so big that the organization is overwhelmed. Members must be able to see from the start that there’s a good chance of winning, or at least that there’s a good strategy for winning. Consider whether an issue is winnable by your group alone, or if you need or have other people who are interested in fighting for it with you. You may need to form a coalition or join an existing effort if it’s too big to win on your own. 5. Be widely felt. Many people must feel that this is a real problem and agree with the solution. It isn’t enough that a few people feel strongly about it. A lot of people need to care a bit about it. 6. Be deeply felt. People mustn’t only agree, but must feel strongly enough to do something about it. It isn’t enough that many people agree about the issue if others don’t feel strongly about it. A few people need to care deeply about the issue. 7. Be easy to understand. It’s best to have an issue that’s visible. That way you won’t have to convince people that the problem exists, and people will be more able to see that your solution is a good one. In general, having a short and clear explanation of the problem will help, even if the issue is complex and difficult. You need to be able to explain the issue in 30 seconds or less. 8. Have a clear target. The target is the person who can give you what you want. If you can’t figure out who this is, you may not have a good issue. Having a clear target doesn’t mean your target needs to be central to every tactic. 9. Have a clear timeframe that works for you. An issue campaign has a beginning, middle, and end. You should have an approximate idea of when those points will be, and make sure that they work with both internal and external time factors (elections and holidays, for example). If you can’t envision a timeframe, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad issue to work on… But some issues can be ruled out if the timeframe DOESN’T work – for example, the vote will happen in three days, and then everything is over. Can you work on the issue for a year or more, so that people can get to understand it and build skills and leadership, while still having short-term goals and experiencing victories along the way?

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10. Be non-divisive. Avoid issues that divide your members or constituency. An example of this would be treating people with HIV as vectors of transmission by saying “We need HIV prevention for prisoners so they won’t bring AIDS back to our community.” Also, beware of organizational funding battles and divisive community planning processes. Your group may include members who get services at different agencies or who live in different communities that are set against each other by government-controlled processes. 11. Build leadership. Your campaign should have many roles that people can play. Issue campaigns that meet other criteria also build leadership if they’re planned to do so. Think about who’s in positions of power within your own organizations... Will this issue equalize the power balance in your organization or create disparities? How can this issue help build the leadership of people who are currently/formerly imprisoned, of people living with HIV? Will this issue make your organization more sustainable by ensuring that all people gain new skills? 12. Set your organization up for the next campaign. Think about future issue areas, as well as campaigns that are related to your current issue. And consider the skills your group will develop and the contacts you’ll make in relation to possible future campaigns. 13. Raise money. It’s important to have some idea of how you’ll obtain funding sources for your campaign and resources to sustain your organization during and after the campaign. 14. Be consistent with your values and vision. The issues we choose to work on must reflect our values and our vision for an improved society. In Project UNSHACKLE, we have the opportunity to work on campaigns that show that imprisonment policies reflect stigmatizing attitudes about crime and drug use that need to change for a better society. 15. Need your group to win the issue. If an issue is well covered by other organizations or groups, it might not be the best use of your group’s time and energy. However, if joining a coalition effort will make a difference, or if your group has significant or different skills and resources, then collaborating on an issue that’s already covered by others can be a very good choice. 16. Not require your group to become a permanent service provider on this issue. People have life-and-death needs for services. And some groups combine both services and advocacy. However, an advocacy effort should focus on a Project UNSHACKLE issue that requires community organizing, not on delivering a service. Otherwise, no one will be focusing on structural and policy issues.
Adapted from the Midwest Academy www.midwestacademy.org

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The Importance of Base-Building in Our Campaign Work
Achieving Your Goals, Strengthening Your Organization
Most organizations that do advocacy work need to have a core of people they can count on to help them get things done and achieve their goals. But these people don’t magically appear – you have to find them and build relationships with them. This is called base-building. In base-building, you aren’t just trying to bring new people into your organization. You’re also trying to ensure that these new supporters are able to see and feel that they’re integral to your organization’s work. When people feel that their efforts are valued and important, they stick around. And that builds the power of your organization – in the short-term, for whatever campaign you decide to take on as part of Project UNSHACKLE, and in the long-term, for future work you might want to do around HIV and imprisonment. Why do people get involved? People generally get involved in advocacy work or activism because of personal investment or self-interest. This is normal. And recognizing that everyone has a lot going on – work, school, kids – is important. Your work will make more sense and be more inviting if you understand and relate to people’s self-interest. A good way to start is by asking folks what’s important in their lives, how they spend their time – and really listening to the answers. The bottom line: You can accomplish more when you have a base of people working with you, and people will feel more comfortable being involved with a group effort. People will make a difference if you ask them to be involved. But you have to ask! Here are five tips for thinking about how to build your organization’s base… Base-Building Tip #1: There are different levels of involvement. An average group might look like this: General supporters (50 – 70 people) Active supporters (20 – 25 people) Core members (5 – 8 people)

Base-building Tip #2: You don’t need thousands – or even hundreds – of people! Small meetings can be disheartening, but most groups are made up of 5 – 8 core members. A healthy number of active supporters is 20 – 25 people. Having a list of 50 – 70 general supporters is great!

People will cycle in and out of the group. Levels of involvement change over time. It’s important to recognize that and be able to plan for and accept it when it happens.

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Base-building Tip #3: Appreciate everyone – don’t just focus on the core! It’s important to recognize everyone, including general supporters who only show up occasionally. If you measure involvement by attendance at weekly meetings, you could miss any number of people who are willing to be involved in other ways. The key to base-building is recognizing people where they’re at – working to help general supporters move to the core by asking more from people at each level and showing appreciation for the core while displaying gratitude toward everyone. Base-building Tip #4: Give people something to do! Although it can be hard to find ways for volunteers to get involved, the best way to make people feel that they’re contributing is to give them something meaningful to do. Making phone calls, helping with a mailing, or staffing the door at an event are good places to start. Once folks get more involved, sit down with them to find out what they’re interested in. This will help you match their strengths and interests to the work that needs to be done. Base-building Tip #5: Once is never enough! Base-building is an ongoing task. Since people will naturally cycle in and out of your group, and levels of commitment and availability will change, it’s important to build your base regularly. There are always opportunities to integrate base-building into other work that your organization is doing. Where do you begin when you’re thinking about building your base? First, and most importantly, remember that every time you meet someone, you have an opportunity to build your base. Introduce yourself, give out a business card, talk about your work, get people’s contact info, and follow up! You can also get started with base-building at: coalition events teach-ins community forums orientations social events & parties Who do you reach out to? Base-building is not about recruiting total strangers, although it may sometimes feel that way. Part of a smart campaign strategy is being able to identify the constituents and allies of your campaign, and targeting your base-building to the folks you’d like to have involved. For example, if you’re part of an AIDS service organization that has joined up with a sentencing reform coalition, it would be strategic for you to reach out to colleagues at other AIDS organizations that are already part of the coalition. Remember: Everyone is capable of base-building! Share the task. If you recruit a new member who belongs to a community group or attends a local church, ask them to pass around flyers or make an announcement about your meetings or events. Ask group members to bring friends when you have events. Base-building isn’t the responsibility of just one person. How do you keep track of your base? Once folks have come to an event or attended a meeting, the in-depth relationship-building work begins. In order to encourage increased involvement, you need to keep track of what people are doing and recognize their efforts. For example, if someone comes to three community events in a row, it’s time to have coffee with that person to talk about other ways they can get involved. If someone comes to two weekly meetings a month, they might be interested in taking on more responsibility. You can track your base in a number of ways, depending on your organization’s capacity: ⇒ Lists on a clipboard that travels to each meeting and event ⇒ Index cards for each person, listing what they say they’ll do and what they really do ⇒ A computer program such as Excel that allows you to create a spreadsheet ⇒ An organizational database – a great tool if you have it!
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A simple version might look like this: Name
George Michael

Address
120 8th St., Nice, PA 11234 45 Ave. B Nice, PA 11234

Phone
321-123-4567 321-234-5678

Email
georgem@ email.com

Meeting / Event Attendance
6/5/08, meeting 7/17/08, forum 9/2/08, protest 6/5/08, meeting 7/7/08, meeting 8/10/08, meeting 9/2/08, protest 9/8/08, fundraiser

Notes
Likes public speaking, great at turnout calls Interested in taking notes at meetings, works weekends

Diane Jones

321-345-6789

no email

Why is follow-up important? When we base-build, we’re asking people to commit their time and energy to our organization or campaign. In the same way that we ask people to be accountable to their commitments, we have to be accountable to our base. Following up with people you've talked with or asked something of is a very important part of base-building. For example, if you hold a community forum and thirty people sign your sign-up sheet at the door, what happens to those names? Everyone should be contacted within two weeks of the event – by e-mail, phone, or mail if need be – even if it’s just to say, “Thanks for coming! Here’s what we’re working on right now…” Following up with people will also help you know who to expect when you ask people to turn out for an event. Reminder calls can make the difference between “I forgot” and “See you there.” You can keep track of your reminder calls and follow ups in a chart like the one above. Similarly, if people say they’ll show up and then don’t, call them to see what happened. It’s important not to make people feel guilty for not attending. Just follow up to let them know that you noticed they weren’t there and that you hope to see them next time.
Adapted from the Praxis Project. www.thepraxisproject.org

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About CHAMP and Project UNSHACKLE
The Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) is a national initiative building a powerful community-based movement bridging HIV/AIDS, human rights, and struggles for social and economic justice. In an era in which HIV rates are rising and prevention efforts are under concerted attack, CHAMP mobilizes people living with HIV, community activists, researchers, academics and policy advocates in our country, and links them with allies around the world. CHAMP arms a new generation of leaders with tools and resources to challenge and change HIV/AIDS prevention policies; to attack the root causes of the epidemic such as poverty, homophobia and racism; and to sustain and expand our movements for justice. We unite across communities facing high rates of HIV, through community organizing, strategy development, media campaigns, and training in popular education, history, critical thinking, and data analysis. CHAMP launched Project UNSHACKLE in May 2008. Project UNSHACKLE (Uniting a Network on Sentencing and HIV/AIDS with Community Knowledge Leading our Efforts) is a groundbreaking cross-movement effort, linking across movements to develop campaigns at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and mass imprisonment in the United States. Project UNSHACKLE includes people who are formerly imprisoned, grassroots leaders, researchers, HIV policy advocates, prison reform and social justice organizers, coalition-building veterans and other allies working together to bridge the nexus between HIV and mass imprisonment. It's no coincidence that the communities most affected by mass imprisonment (especially in urban areas and the Southern states) also have the highest rates of HIV infection in the country. HIV prevention strategies must include a focus on reducing the scope and impact of sentencing, imprisonment, parole and probation. The goal of Project UNSHACKLE is to develop grassroots campaigns aimed at reducing new HIV infections tied to imprisonment in the United States. CHAMP and our allies are collaborating to kick start an ongoing national movement, building on and expanding existing networks for HIV prevention justice in and about the criminal justice system.

About the Author
Laura McTighe, MTS, began work at the intersection of HIV, imprisonment, addiction and faith over twelve years ago in the Philadelphia restorative justice and AIDS activist movements. As founding Director of Prison Services for Philadelphia FIGHT, she spent five years living and working alongside people with HIV who were formerly imprisoned. In collaboration with John Bell and Jeanette Moody, she developed TEACH Outside, a community organizing program supporting people through the difficult transition home and building their leadership in movements to end the AIDS epidemic and transform the criminal justice system. Over the years, she has had the privilege of mentoring and collaborating with TEACH Outside graduates in addressing prison health care policies, post-imprisonment restrictions, and threats to community support networks. In her research and organizing, Laura continues to focus on building community-led responses to address the HIV and imprisonment crises. After joining the CHAMP to launch Project UNSHACKLE, Laura has returned to her Philadelphia home to begin work as a co-investigator for an R01 examining the effectiveness of TEACH Inside/TEACH Outside, a community-based empowerment and mutual support intervention for HIV prevention in and out of jail. Her work is housed at the Institute for Community Justice, where she serves as Co-Director with her dear friend, John Bell. Laura earned her Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, where she studied as a Presidential Scholar, combining work in liberation theology and storytelling to speak to the vigor and imagination that persist in the midst of suffering. She is also completing a manuscript exploring HIV/AIDS, gender justice and economic justice through the stories of Muslim women living with HIV in the United States and South Africa with scholar/activist Farid Esack.

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